Jim Wilson, seen here at MI8, oversees the procurement of hardware used in experiments such as NuMI and NOvA. Photo: Reidar Hahn
How long have you been at Fermilab?
This November it will be 35 years. I started out working in the machine shop as an instrument machinist, then I was an instrument maker, and then I became a working foreman before I moved over to the Accelerator Division. I absolutely love it here; it’s a great place.
What is a typical day for you like?
This could be anything related to ongoing fabrication issues in our machine shops or at outside vendors. Right now, we have critical parts being brazed in California; if a problem should arise, I may have to travel to address it. A few weeks ago, I traveled to Florida for a vendor visit to discuss fabrication for an ongoing project. Every day is a little bit different, which makes it interesting.
What is the best part of your job?
I work with a variety of talented people all over the lab. I really enjoy that. It’s fun. The thing I really like about the lab environment is that it is a team effort.
How did you get interested in this type of work?
I’ve always been interested in experimental stuff, one-of-a-kind projects. What really drives me is the hardware that is not easily repaired or is difficult to manufacture. I like the challenge — every day there’s a new challenge, and every job has unique challenges.
What do you like most about working at Fermilab?
This place is amazing. We have scientists, attorneys, engineers, technicians, administrative support, groundskeepers, machinists, welders, and procurement and transport specialists, to mention a few occupations. In other words, many different occupations are represented at Fermilab, and each is the best at what they do. I believe that we have some of the best talent — friendly and helpful. If you have a question about something, there’s somebody here that can help you.
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I restore antique cars; it is very relaxing. It’s similar to some of the work I do here at Fermilab, like machining, finishing, fitting, assembling and troubleshooting.
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