Bill Miller takes over orchestrating NOvA assembly

Bill Miller, assembly manager for installing the NOvA far detector, in front of the assembly hall in Ash River, Minn.

In particle physics, most people dream of the day when their experiment is finally up and running.

Bill Miller would much rather be in the thick of a giant construction project.

“This is the exciting part of the experiment – all the design and the R&D work,” said Miller, who was recently hired as the NOvA assembly manager for detector installation at the NOvA Far Detector Building in Ash River, Minnesota.

Miller, who left a position as lab supervisor at the Soudan Underground Lab, has more than 25 years of experience installing underground detectors for the University of Minnesota. He oversaw construction and installation of the MINOS far detector, one of two machines scientists use to understand whether a ghostly particle called a neutrino changes as it travels, and has been involved in the NOvA project since it began in 2002. He spent a lot of time at both Fermilab and Argonne to help construct the NOvA near detector, which is housed at Fermilab.

Scientists will use the NOvA detectors to analyze the mysterious behavior of neutrinos, specifically to see if muon neutrinos change into electron neutrinos. This information could help scientists understand whether neutrinos contributed to the imbalance between matter and antimatter in the universe.

The NOvA experiment’s construction is supported by a cooperative research agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and the University of Minnesota. The NOvA collaboration achieved beneficial occupancy of the assembly building in April. Now, a crew of seven is working on installing the fixtures necessary for Miller and his team to start assembling the detector.

In his new role, Miller is orchestrating the acquisition and installation of the separate elements necessary for the project’s assembly. Meanwhile, the University of Minnesota is looking for someone to take over Miller’s old role as lab supervisor at the Soudan Underground Mine. The posting for that position is available here.

Rhianna Wisniewski