Engineers and scientists gather to improve policies and processes at the laboratory

Paul Czarapata
Lidija Kokoska

Paul Czarapata and Lidija Kokoska, co-chairs of the Engineering Advisory Council, and Mike Lindgren, chief project officer, wrote this column.

All-engineers retreat
More than 200 Fermilab engineers gathered in Ramsey Auditorium on Feb. 5 for the first all-engineers retreat at Fermilab. Attendees discussed topics critical to the engineering community, including the Engineering Manual, Teamcenter, and recruitment and retention. A moderator and a group of panel members engaged in discussion and addressed questions from the audience.

The Engineering Advisory Council will take the concerns and feedback from the retreat to the lab’s senior management and create action items for potential changes. The ultimate goal of the retreat was to establish a sense of community with Fermilab engineers. The EAC hopes that action on the topics discussed and future retreats will help solidify this goal.

All-scientists retreat

Mike Lindgren

On Feb. 6, more than 150 scientists participated in the all-scientists retreat, which opened with a welcome from Nigel Lockyer. Four presentations on a new scientific appointment policy covered its highlights and changes from the old policy. The policy, which was more than a year in the making and involved many staff from around the lab, will next go to the FRA board for approval. Compared to the previous policy, the new one is simpler: Scientists are no longer appointed by the FRA board, but the board approves the policy and procedures that are followed in making appointments.

I presented an overview of the policy’s background and history. Roger Dixon of the Accelerator Division followed, describing the termination process, which covers the both the Performance Improvement Plan process and the process used in a reduction-in-force situation. Rob Kutschke of the Scientific Computing Division then described the new procedures for appointments and promotions, including major improvements such as detailed descriptions of the role of the Fermilab Committee on Scientific Appointments and the process for promotion to scientist III. Steve Brice in the Neutrino Division reviewed the new process for conducting searches, one that emphasizes transparency, fairness and a commitment to improving the scientific workforce by increasing diversity.

Each of those three talks was followed by a question-and-answer session with the presenter and two panel members.

Many in attendance asked questions and actively participated in the discussion. The general consensus was that the new policy was an improvement over the old one and much more aligned with modern practices, particularly in how we conduct searches for scientific appointment candidates.

Jay Theilacker of the Accelerator Division fields a question at the all-engineer retreat. Photo: Cindy Arnold
Steve Brice of the Neutrino Division presents at the all-scientist retreat. Photo: Reidar Hahn