Carl Lindenmeyer retires after 40 years at Fermilab

Carl Lindenmeyer

There will be a farewell party for Carl Lindenmeyer today from 3 to 5 p.m. in the music room at the User’s Center. Refreshments will be served.

Carl Lindenmeyer is precise. A mechanical designer at Fermilab for over 40 years, Lindenmeyer still uses a pencil and paper to map out his projects. The hand-drawn sketches are frequently as accurate as computer-generated models. Lindenmeyer retires tomorrow, Sept. 9.

“Ever since I was a kid, I always enjoyed figuring out how things worked,” Lindenmeyer said. “I ruined several clocks in my day.”

Lindenmeyer was part of the team that maintained the bubble chamber film scanning machines and built the manually operated measuring machines. He also contributed to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey project.

“Carl’s work is excellent. He was instrumental in designing and building several machines and tools,” Dan Green, the head of the CMS department in PPD, said. “There are Fermilab-made products all over the world. Carl had a hand in a lot of them.”

Mike Crisler, a Fermilab physicist, describes Lindenmeyer’s ability to mentally conceptualize mechanical problems, and their solutions, as outstanding.

“I would tell him the problem, and he’d go away with his pencil and paper,” Crisler said. “A remarkably short time later, he’d come back with a beautifully-drawn answer to whatever the issue was.”

During his years at Fermilab, Lindenmeyer was regarded as someone who could help solve a problem. And if Lindenmeyer didn’t know the answer, he would turn to his bank of filing cabinets.

“This cabinet system is huge,” Crisler said. “Carl would go over and pull out exactly what you needed, no matter what your question was.”

When Fermilab transitioned from making bubble chambers to large detectors, Lindenmeyer and the mechanical workshop moved from Wilson Hall to the Village to have more room. The filing cabinets moved with him.

“Carl was only in the Village for about a week when I got the call that his cabinets were making the floor of his office collapse,” Crisler said.

The floor held up after support slabs were installed. The cabinets still take up most of Lindenmeyer’s office.

“I’ve been at Fermilab for over 40 years, but I’ve been in the mechanical design business for over 50 years,” Lindenmeyer said, with a wave to the maze of drawers. “You accumulate a lot of stuff. It has to go somewhere.”

Green said people always go to Lindenmeyer for advice.

“He’s fairly quiet, but he’s a clever guy,” Green said. “You could always bounce an idea or two off of him.”

Lindenmeyer will miss Fermilab, especially the people.

“I really enjoyed working here. It wasn’t like work,” Lindenmeyer said. “I can’t even think of anyone I worked with who I didn’t like.”

Crisler said the feeling is mutual.

“We’ll miss him,” Crisler said. “In fact, I’m a little daunted by the idea of Fermilab without Carl.”

Ashley WennersHerron