John Welford

Sad to be voted out, but still interested to see who wins!

Favourite Thing: Understanding Science!



I went to high school and sixth form college in Worcester, then University in Sheffield, then whilst I was working I did a part time course at the University of Bath and now I’m at the University of Manchester.


10 GCSE’s, 4 A-Levels, MEng degree in Electronic Control and Systems Engineering, PGC in Management

Work History:

I used to work for QinetiQ, this meant I did research into all sorts of things to do with defence

Current Job:

I am currently a second year PhD student


I’m at Manchester University, but my research is paid for by Cummins Turbo Technologies

Me and my work

I’m a PhD student investigating small electric motors for use in the engines of large trucks.

A modern car can contain 30 or 40 different electric motors, some of these are used in the engine to move valves and other small parts. I am interested in motors used to change the flow of gas in the engine turbocharger.

My Typical Day

I’m either in the lab playing with motors to see what happens, or I’m at my computer doing the same thing with simulations of the motors.

I am currently making computer models to simulate how real motors behave and checking that they are correct. I will then be able to use the models to investigate how to improve the motors and make them smaller and better.

What I'd do with the money

I’d like to put together a set of experiments based on different measurements and demonstrating the conservation of energy.

Previously I’ve put together a few simple games to test how good people are at estimating how long a metre is, how long a second is, and how much a kilogram weighs. When people have tried it at science fairs they often do very badly at it! (in fact students often do better than their teachers!)

First I’d like to extend this to be able to look at things like temperature, electricity and light. Would you be able to measure out one Amp of electric current or tell what one degreeĀ CelsiusĀ felt like?

Next I’d like to put together some experiments to demonstrate how energy is transferred between different systems, and how the total amount of energy always stays the same. This is a really basic principle that loads of modern science is based on, but many people don’t fully understand.

Finally I’d like to take this set of experiments out to local schools and science fairs to get students and the general public involved in playing with them. Hopefully I’ll be able to bring them to your school!

My Interview

How would you describe yourself in 3 words?

Interested but confused!

Who is your favourite singer or band?

Ugly Duckling (look them up on youtube – they’re great!)

What is the most fun thing you've done?

I drove a really old car from England to the middle of Africa.

If you had 3 wishes for yourself what would they be? - be honest!

I’ve never really thought about wishing for things, I’m generally quite happy with whatever I’ve got.

What did you want to be after you left school?

I didn’t really know, I just tried to do things that I found interesting and this is where I’ve ended up!

Were you ever in trouble in at school?

Not really, I was quite quiet at school.

What's the best thing you've done as a scientist?

Launched stuff faster than the speed of sound and then shot at it to see what happened!

Tell us a joke.

I once tried snail racing, my snail wasn’t very fast so I tried removing its shell – but that just made it more sluggish!

Other stuff

Work photos: