A sense of community

Kent Collins

Kent Collins, head of the Facilities Engineering Services Section, wrote this column.

Success of Fermilab’s mission relies heavily on active participation from graduate students, postdocs, researchers and other university personnel. Many of these visitors, or users, reside nearby or are lucky enough to live in on-site housing.

One of my early meetings with Director Nigel Lockyer was a tour of the Village housing, where he’d lived for several years while working with the CDF collaboration as a University of Pennsylvania researcher. Although many of our users don’t live on site, he felt an obligation for Fermilab to provide a “home away from home” atmosphere, a place where users and visitors have a sense of belonging to a community.

The Users Center provides a common gathering place to meet and enjoy a drink or two, or even a Friday night dinner. It’s been a convenient place to get together after collaboration meetings or to celebrate a success, but it’s not always been the community facility we’d like to have — one that draws people together on a regular basis.

This fall we’ll start the first phase of a make-over for the Users Center. We’re currently assessing relocating gaming in the facility and will be renovating the current gaming room into a larger dining and meeting space. We’re considering various options for a small menu of food choices several nights a week. The outside wall of the new dining room will be all glass, with a pair of doors to the north patio. The Core Computing Division is investigating cable Internet service for the Village, along with cable TV, so we’ll finally be able to watch live sports and contemporary movies!

In our effort to develop a great community gathering place we’re also considering improvements (and potentially new names!) to the Music Room, TV Room, the bar and lounge, and the restrooms. We welcome your suggestions.