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Driven to perfection

Xiaoxu Zhang photo

Xiaoxu Zhang

Senior Motor Drives Research Engineer, Malmesbury, UK

Engineering Dyson’s next generation of electrical motors.

I joined Dyson as an engineer in 2017 after completing my PhD in Electrical Machine Design at Aalborg University in Denmark. I now work in the Motors and Power Systems Research team as Senior Motor Drives Engineer.

My role involves designing and developing Dyson digital motors that will go into Dyson’s next-generation hair dryers and vacuum cleaners. I primarily work on motor electromagnetic design and advanced control algorithm development.

The Motor and Power System Research team is a core part of Dyson’s business model. It has a long history of developing Dyson digital motors – from the early V2 to the more recent V10. These motors make Dyson products unique and help it stay ahead of the competition in terms of performance. The scope of our team recently expanded to advanced heater technologies and high-density battery power systems, it’s a growing team with plenty of opportunities.

My interest in electrical motors began on my tenth birthday, when my parents gave me a toy car. I still remember that it was driven by a grey brushed DC motor together with a white plastic gearbox in front. I was amazed by the noise it made and the speed it ran at on the racetracks. I spent a lot time and effort to upgrade it. This experience led me to study electrical engineering at a university in China. Following that, I completed a master program, before being awarded a PhD scholarship, which took me to Denmark.

I was impressed with the unconventional bladeless fans and hair dryers, and fully aware that Dyson was not just a household appliance company, but also had a good reputation for developing and producing high speed and high power-density digital motors. When I was looking for opportunities to start my professional career, I felt my background and skills were well suited to the motor-related positions at Dyson.

Working at Dyson gives me the opportunity to apply what I learnt during my degree, it’s a fascinating experience for an engineer to design a motor from concept sketches on paper, simulate and test it in the lab, roll it out from a production line, and finally put it into Dyson products selling globally.

I enjoy working as part of a team, my manager and colleagues are so supportive and helpful. I get regular, honest and positive feedback to help me grow and stay motivated. There’s enough freedom to be creative and think beyond the boundaries, as well as opportunities to present my ideas and get my work acknowledged. Dyson’s high-performance culture drives me to develop in many ways.

Within a multidisciplinary research team, I’ve had the opportunity to work with experts from different teams across aero dynamics, acoustics, vibration and even hair science and developing the skills of battery electro-thermal modelling, and system-level simulation. 

Like everyone else at Dyson, I’m encouraged to think differently, not be afraid of failures, push the technology boundaries. There are loads of opportunities at Dyson to obtain valuable professional experience and grow in different directions.

There are challenging days, but we stay focused on delivering high power-density digital motors. As research engineers, we collaborate with different teams to fix any issues, contacting suppliers around the world to integrate edge-cutting technologies, and come up with new ideas and solutions to everyday challenges.

Early this year, we successfully transferred the motor project, I felt proud that my first project at Dyson had gone well and my work had been well received. It’s an excellent achievement down to team effort and all the hard work has paid off.

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