MINERvA receives Secretary’s Award of Achievement

The MINERvA project at Fermilab was the recipient of the 2011 Secretary’s Award of Achievement. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu presented the award at the 2011 DOE Project Management Workshop in mid-March to (from left): Ted Lavine, Department of Energy Office of High Energy Physics; Bob DeMaat, deputy project manager for MINERvA; Steve Webster, the federal project director for MINERvA in the Department of Energy Fermi Site Office; Daniel Lehman, director in the Office of Project Assessment in the Office of Science; and Ingrid Kolb, director of the Department of Energy’s Office of Management. Photo: Department of Energy

Getting an experiment up and running takes a lot of hard work, but getting an experiment up and running ahead of schedule and under budget is a Herculean feat.

Collaborators on the MINERvA experiment at Fermilab did just that, an accomplishment that earned them the 2011 Secretary’s Award of Achievement

“It is really nice to be recognized,” said Debbie Harris, MINERvA project manager and the experiment’s co-spokesperson. “We had a group of people who really wanted everything to succeed. Everyone was really focused on getting to the physics.”

The MINERvA experiment, which studies what happens when neutrinos interact with matter, came in 9 percent under budget and was already installed by the time the collaboration received CD-4, the last step in the DOE approval process. The collaboration consists of 100 physicists from 25 institutions.

Steve Webster, the federal project director for MINERvA, and his colleagues in the DOE Fermi Site Office recommended the project for the award.

“A typical project has the incentive to spend every nickel they have on the project,” Webster said. “MINERvA came in under budget and proposed to spend those funds for upgrading the NuMI beamline and the MINOS hall, upgrades that would benefit MINERvA and several other experiments.”

Deputy Project Manager Bob DeMaat, who accepted the award for the group at the 2011 DOE Project Management Workshop in early March, attributed the experiment’s success to the collaboration.

“The MINERvA project brought together a diverse group of talented people from many institutions across several continents, all of whom benefitted from exemplary leadership by Debbie Harris, our project manager,” DeMaat said.

The award citation commended the MINERvA collaboration for its “outstanding dedication and ingenuity” and overcoming production hurdles to build a “flagship facility” that enables DOE to study neutrino interactions in detail.

“The award recognizes the technical and managerial excellence at Fermilab that can be leveraged even by an experiment whose components were largely constructed by university groups,” said Kevin McFarland, MINERvA co-spokesperson. “The MINERvA example shows how laboratories and universities can work together to produce a great outcome.”

— Rhianna Wisniewski