New governance for the USPAS

Bill Barletta

For 35 years the U.S. Particle Accelerator School (USPAS) has acted decisively in collaboration with leading research universities to remedy the lack of formal training opportunities in accelerator science by providing rigorous instruction in the physics and engineering of particle accelerators. The early oversight by Fermilab, SLAC and Brookhaven laboratory directors was formalized in 1992 in a memorandum of understanding of the USPAS Board of Governors (now the USPAS Collaboration) of DOE national laboratories and NSF university accelerator centers with Fermilab as its managing institution. This March those same institutions formally signed a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) that governs the USPAS as a Fermilab program.

The restructuring of the governance of the USPAS comes after the DOE Office of Science requested that the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) conduct a 30-year retrospective review to assess the USPAS, its programs, its governance and its impact on the U.S. accelerator workforce. In its May 2015 report, HEPAP concluded that “USPAS very effectively delivers both training and workforce development. USPAS’s effectiveness derives from an organizational model responsive to the workforce development and training needs of the DOE laboratories … the laboratory members of the Consortium uniformly commend the value of USPAS, and all attest that USPAS is vital for development and training of their laboratory workforce… The USPAS program is cost effective.”

In early FY16, the DOE Office of Science articulated a new directive to make the USPAS fully consistent with all of its other programs with respect to the flow of funds, management accountability and program review. The recently signed MOA reflects this new model. Under the new governance we have now completed three successful sessions. The next session will be hosted in June 2017 by Northern Illinois University and will be held in Lisle, Illinois. The program can be found on the USPAS website, uspas.fnal.gov. Thanks to the proximity of the venue to Fermilab, we will be able to offer multiple hands-on classes in accelerator engineering that would be difficult to offer in other venues.

Under the new governance, scholarships for graduate and undergraduate students affiliated with a collaboration member will now be awarded by the respective institutions. Other degree-seeking graduate and undergraduate students may still apply to the USPAS directly for support. This arrangement allows us to continue a strong scholarship program in the face of tight budget constraints. As always, USPAS scholarships are awarded on a highly competitive basis without regard to race, gender or national origin. Consideration will be given to balancing class sizes.

In another major change, with the retirement of Professor S.Y. Lee, Professor Michael Snow of Indiana University will now oversee the IU/USPAS master’s degree program. We have been working with another university for the past 18 months to initiate a second USPAS master’s program that we hope is a first step toward a USPAS-affiliated Ph.D. in accelerator science. We expect an announcement soon of that new partnership.

This 18-month period has been a time of transition. We continue to have the strong support of all the laboratories in the USPAS Collaboration. Our goal remains the same as that which inspired Mel Month of Brookhaven to found the USPAS: to provide an outstanding quality graduate program for people interested in accelerator science and technology, whether they build, operate, use, design or are just fascinated by accelerators.

Bill Barletta of Fermilab and MIT is the director of the U.S. Particle Accelerator School.