Four Italian engineers walk into a bar(n) …

Emanuela Barzi, center, stands with the four interns selected to participate in the Italian National Council of Engineers program at Fermilab this fall. From left: Claudio Pontili worked on improving computing for the cloud. Martina Pagnani worked on the Mu2e calorimeter. Giorgio Fasce worked on a radio-frequency resonator. Lisa Favili worked on LBNF decay pipe shielding. Photo: Dan Turrioni, TD

The headline of this article may sound like the opening line of a joke, but for four Italian engineers, it became a reality when they joined Fermilab for a nine-week internship this fall. Their contributions in support of the laboratory’s research program spanned mechanical, civil, electrical and software engineering. The internship program was the result of the hard work of several organizations determined to support young Italian engineers.

The Italian National Council of Engineers, or CNI, funded 22 grants to promote the growth of engineers through professional and cultural exchanges at American research institutions. The Italian Scientists and Scholars in North America Foundation (ISSNAF) worked actively to find institutions where these CNI candidates could be assigned.

At Fermilab, four CNI projects co-funded by the Order of Engineers of Latina, Frosinone, Genova and Livorno, were chosen out of the 23 proposed by Emanuela Barzi, physicist and engineer in the Technical Division and key organizer of the program on behalf of the Cultural Association of Italians at Fermilab. CAIF acted as the ISSNAF liaison and hosted the newcomers at Fermilab.

This extended program is rooted in the remarkable success of a summer training program started in 1984 by Giorgio Bellettini with the physicists of the Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics collaborating on CDF.

Fermilab’s ability to define exciting engineering projects for the interns was key in getting their talents to the laboratory. All the projects were fully financed using funds outside the laboratory.

“For the Scientific Computing Division, the internship has worked extremely well,” said Gabriele Garzoglio, supervisor of Claudio Pontili, a software engineer specializing in cloud computing technologies. “The interns showed great professionalism and skill, and it was fun working with them. Claudio moved forward our use of computing services from commercial cloud providers significantly.”

The organizers hope that Fermilab will be able to do at least as well next year.

“We trust that the program will continue to expand in the future,” Barzi said. “Given the many proposed training programs at the lab, we shall be looking for more support and more sponsors.”

Marcia Teckenbrock