One minute with Rob Reilly, mechanical design engineer

Since the time he was in grade school, Rob Reilly, AD, has been working with machines, including his first car, a 1950 Jaguar. Photo: Reidar Hahn

Since the time he was in grade school, Rob Reilly, AD, has been working with machines, including his first car, a 1950 Jaguar. Photo: Reidar Hahn

How long have you worked at Fermilab?
Thirty-five years. My first job was in the switchyard designing the left-bend cryogenic system and then later on the right-bend cryogenic system, which were used in during the fixed-target program. Now both of those are decommissioned. It’s kind of funny to be here long enough to see something that you built be retired.

What might you do in a typical workday?
We take care of supplying beam to experiments and all of the accelerator needs. Right now we’re in a 13-week-shutdown where we’re changing some of the beamline layout. Every day I’m down in the tunnels taking out old parts and installing new ones.

When did you begin doing this type of work?
It started with fixing up my little bicycle when I was in grade school. And then I moved on to restoring cars. I still have my first car from high school, a 1950 Jaguar. I like taking things that have been run down by other people and returning them back to the way they were when they were new.

What’s the weirdest project you’ve worked on?
It was one of the magnetic shielding jobs in the NuMI extraction line. The NuMI extraction was affecting the Recycler Ring, so we had to put quarter-inch plates around the magnets, which were already installed. We had to make all these little steel plates and fit them in around these magnets. There were over a thousand drawings of little plates, and every one was different. It took a year to figure out how to do it.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?
Fermilab is always about something new, something different. That’s the most exciting thing: building something that nobody else in the world has ever built and, very often, nobody else knows how to build. Once in a while when we start, we don’t even know how. The scientists say, “We need something that does this, but we don’t know exactly how it should be.” We have to figure it out as we go.

What’s something people might not know about you?
I’ve been playing guitar since 1970. My favorite type of music to perform is Christian contemporary, and I’m a member of my church band. I have a collection of 15 guitars: My favorite is my 1971 Gibson Les Paul coffee sunburst. Also, I’ve been married for 38 years, and I have two kids and five grandkids.