Terri Shaw, electrical engineer

Terri Shaw is an electrical engineer in the Particle Physics Division. Photo: Reidar Hahn

How long have you been at Fermilab?
Almost 30 years. I started as a co-op student in 1981 in the Accelerator Division. I liked it so much I applied for a permanent position when I graduated in ’85. I started in the Particle Instrumentation Group of the Research Division, working for CDF.

What is a typical day for you like?
I don’t always know what I’m going to do each day; it depends on what is the highest priority. The last project I worked on was the Dark Energy Survey. That involved a lot of travel to Chile and the installation of the camera down there. Now I am a project engineer for the LBNE far detector. I do a lot of planning, trying to coordinate the initial testing for some of the prototypes. I have meetings to attend and phone conversations, collaborating with university groups that are involved, making sure we get things to work in the end. The rest of my time is spent working for the CMS upgrade. I never come in and find myself bored.

How did you get interested in this type of work?
I grew up in the New Lenox area. When I was in high school, I remember some people coming in from the Illinois Institute of Technology on career day to talk about engineering. I like science and I like math, so engineering sounded like the perfect match for me. I went to the University of Illinois, and while there I basically fell in love with that field of study. I just kept on that path.

What is the best part of your job?
I enjoy facing new and different challenges with the different projects that I’ve worked on. Having mentally challenging, interesting work is what’s kept me here all these years. My projects have constantly changed in scope and I’ve been able to gain and acquire new knowledge along the way.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
I like to read, hike and visit my kids. Two of my children just started graduate school; one is studying biomedical engineering and one is studying mechanical engineering. My third daughter is a math teacher and lives here in Illinois.

Sarah Witman