It was Monday, January 16, 1978.
Fresh out of college, Dave Carlson pulled up to Fermilab for his first day of work as a visiting technician. As he parked his blue 1968 Camaro RS convertible in the lot and made his way to Lab 3, he figured he’d be at the laboratory for about a year before heading to graduate school and then on to work in the oil industry.
But something got in the way.
While helping to build an apparatus for the E356 neutrino experiment, Carlson decided he wanted to stay on as a permanent employee – so much so that he convinced two Fermilab physicists to take a walk down to the high-rise horseshoe to check out the engine he had recently rebuilt in the Camaro. As it turns out, Carlson’s technical skills were quite apparent in the engine rebuild, and the physicists were impressed enough to hire him.
“From that day on, the laboratory just kept giving me more and more interesting things to do,” said Carlson, who has worked on the CDF experiment and held positions in the former Physics Section, Research Division, and the Business Services Section, most recently as section head.
“Dave’s enthusiasm, diligence and hard work – plus a ’68 Camaro – have served both him and the lab very well,” said Bruce Chrisman, Fermilab’s recent COO. “Dave always dived into great depths with every subject he encountered. I have relied on his knowledge and candor to keep me from straying too far afield in my efforts to support the science of the lab. He has set very high expectations for the head of Business Services.”
Carlson says he’s enjoyed working at a place where so much discovery is always taking place.
“One of the most rewarding parts of my job has been getting a chance to interact face-to-face with so many incredibly smart and talented people, including the wonderful physicists who took the time to explain to me what was happening at Fermilab in a way I could understand,” Carlson said. “One thing you can count on is that there is always something new and exciting just around the corner.”
Carlson’s plans for retirement include traveling to the mountains with his wife and volunteering for a local not-for-profit organization that is near and dear to his heart, Little Angels Center for Exceptional Care in Elgin.
Carlson’s last day will be July 13.
And, in case you were wondering, he still has the ’68 Camaro.
The Business Services Section is hosting a retirement celebration for Carlson from 2 to 4 p.m. today on the Wilson Hall 15th-floor south crossover.