Fermilab looks to expand Vet Tech program

Aria Soha

Aria Soha

Fermilab recently launched an initiative to improve the representation of military veterans in our workforce, called the Vet Tech internship program. In our six-week pilot program this summer, which we started in partnership with the College of DuPage, four veterans currently enrolled at the college contributed to Muon g-2 process controls, the FAST Facility and liquid-argon R&D and experiment operations.

VetTech interns Bryanna Pisciotto and Joe Harris work at the Proton Assembly Building. Photo: Al Johnson

VetTech interns Bryanna Pisciotto and Joe Harris work at the Proton Assembly Building. Photo: Al Johnson

Both the interns and their Fermilab supervisors have touted the program as a success.

Fermilab’s Dan Markley supervised intern-veteran Colin Simpson on a Muon g-2 project. Simpson soldered feed-through pins on a magnetic field electronics board. He also built spreadsheet tables and curve fits for approximately 100 cryogenic sensors. The curve fits convert the sensor data into engineering data that can be used in the process control systems.

Markley characterized Simpson as someone who was responsible and took pride in his work, taking the initiative to improve the processes he worked on.

A second intern-veteran, Erik Dopp, worked at the FAST Facility. His supervisor Wayne Johnson gave him high praise, saying, “He has been a godsend for the past five weeks. He came with great enthusiasm and willingness to do what was asked.”

College of DuPage President Ann Rondeau, front, tours the Fermilab Accelerator Science and Technology Facility. Photo: Jim Shultz

College of DuPage President Ann Rondeau, front, tours the Fermilab Accelerator Science and Technology Facility. Photo: Jim Shultz

And intern-veterans Bryanna Pisciotto and Joe Harris were exposed to a broad range of skill sets and knowledge that they had never worked with before, at the Proton Assembly Building under Bill Miner.  They made an exceptional impression on everyone they worked with, including scientist Stephen Pordes, with their “tremendous work ethic.”

Veterans bring initiative, discipline and a sense of responsibility to the laboratory workforce. In turn, they receive valuable experience in technical fields, bolstering their skills. Some of the interns may even eventually be hired full time by Fermilab.

In August, College of DuPage President Ann Rondeau visited Fermilab to take the next steps in expanding the program, meeting with me and Fermilab Vet Tech program founders Steve Brice and Sandra Charles.

Fermilab will continue the program next year, and we hope to increase the number of interns from four to 10, possibly lengthening the term of the internship from six weeks. We also hope to expand the program to more areas of the lab. If you are interested in employing a Vet Tech next summer, please contact Sandra Charles at scharles@fnal.gov.

Aria Soha is the deputy coordinator of the Vet Tech program at Fermilab.