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Where I work: Muath Alamri

From a childhood love of working with his hands, to creating scientific tools that meet a very precise brief.

I work as a Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machinist at the Prototyping & Product Development Core Lab, where we support the KAUST research community by providing product design and fabrication solutions. We make the bespoke tools or components that researchers need to run their experiments. Almost every project is special or unusual in some way.

CNC machining uses computer-controlled machine tools to remove layers of material from a stock “work-piece” to produce a custom-designed part. It is the latest technology in manufacturing – faster and more accurate than conventional machining. CNC machining makes it possible to manufacture complicated designs and shapes in a wide range of materials, including metals, plastics, wood, glass, foam and composites.

In this photo, taken at the Central Fabrication Lab where I mostly work, I am holding a stainless steel CNC-machined block called an optical window holder. This object, made for the Clean Combustion Research Center, is used to study processes inside internal combustion engines by allowing researchers to shoot a laser right into the combustion chamber.

This optical window holder was a very detailed design to manufacture. Its complicated shape required many machining steps and is a great example of what CNC machining technology is capable of. Conventional machining can’t make such a design.

Growing up, I always loved making things, which led me to study manufacturing engineering technology. I then joined the Machinist Development Apprenticeship Program at KAUST. After an 18-month apprenticeship, I became a CNC Machinist. If you like to work with your hands and manufacture things, this is a field with almost no limitations. You can make anything from a screw to a rocket!

Since most of my work is for research and development applications, every project has its own new or custom design to fabricate, so I have to switch gears quite often. My favorite part of the job is working in an environment of multiple cultures and different backgrounds.

Since I work with researchers, when they succeed, I succeed. It’s a great feeling to know that I was able to contribute to that success.