Wednesday, August 29, 2018

News: Nuclear AMRC researcher in Great British Bake Off

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An engineering researcher at the University of Sheffield's Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) in Rotherham is taking part in The Great British Bake Off.

With state of the art facilities on the Advanced Manufacturing Park (AMP) in Rotherham, the £25m Nuclear AMRC is a joint initiative with industry, The University of Sheffield and The University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute, and is designed to help build and enhance the UK's civil nuclear new build industry.

Dr Rahul Mandal, a research associate specialising in light-based measurement of engineered components, started baking cakes for colleagues at the Nuclear AMRC only two years ago. He is now a contestant in the 2018 series of the hit baking competition, which began broadcasting on Channel 4 this week.

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Born in India, Rahul came to the UK in 2010 on a scholarship to study for his PhD in optical metrology at Loughborough University. He joined the Nuclear AMRC in 2015, to develop innovative automated techniques for inspecting components for any contamination or flaw. "It's all about measuring things with light," he says.

Rahul has expanded his research skills, and now works with other light-based measurement technologies including confocal microscopy and interferometry for weld inspection.

Rahul grew up in Kolkata and once in the UK he discovered an abundance of new flavours and cuisines that have inspired his "East-meets-West"-style of baking. As a research scientist, Rahul's instinct is to undertake every bake with a forensic attitude to research and an uncompromising attention to detail. He is fascinated by the science of baking, but also loves to ensure (or at least try) that his creations are beautiful, full of flavour and structurally elegant, too.

Safely into the second week, the researcher impressed with regional biscuits, a wagon wheel technical challange and a self portrait showstopper. The eisode had an average audience of 6.1 million.

Rahul said: "I started cooking and experimenting with food from the age of 15, however, proper everyday cooking started since I moved to UK about seven years ago. I never baked when I was in India. My baking journey began in the UK about five years ago when I was feeling lonely, and needed to do something along with my studies. At that time, it was limited to making bread and biscuits. The first cake I made was about two years ago, when my parents visited the UK for the first time.


"Even five years ago I really had no idea about "The Great British Bake Off." One of my colleagues kind of pushed me to apply for Bake Off. He kept sending me the application link, until I said to him that I have started applying.

"I was so nervous that first morning. I made sure the first time I climbed down the steps towards the tent that I did it right! It was so surreal to be in the tent, and it still feels like a dream to me. Almost as if I was watching Bake Off 2018 (you can never see yourself in dream, so it kind of made sense)."

Nuclear AMRC website

Images: Nuclear AMRC /Channel 4

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