Ed Podschweit retires after more than 45 years

Ed Podschweit

Ed Podschweit

I started at Fermilab in 1970 as a contractor with Straits Engineering. I was hired permanently by Fermilab in 1971. I will retire on Dec. 1, 2016, after more than 45 years at Fermilab. Needless to say, the landscape was much different when I began working at Fermilab one month after graduating from Carthage College. Back then, there was no Wilson Hall. The Main Ring tunnel was still being excavated. We had Texas Longhorn cattle on site.

My first job was helping install and maintain the vacuum system for the Main Ring beam tube. I tested ion and sublimation pumps, vacuum-leak-checked magnet welds, installed instrumentation in the service buildings, avoided the water spray from one of the many ruptured low-conductivity-water ceramic connectors and occasionally rescued a motorist from a vehicle that had slid into the Main Ring cooling pond.

In early 1972, the circulating beam was established. Soon after, the first experiment involving a hydrogen gas jet was proposed to be conducted in the Main Ring at the CZero straight section. I worked with a team of U.S. and USSR physicists. The experiment was ground-breaking for political and scientific reasons. The United States and Russia were still in the middle of the Cold War. Also, a liquid-helium refrigerator was used for the first time at Fermilab. This was one of the more memorable jobs I have had in my time at Fermilab. There were many challenges, including the language barrier and working with antiquated Russian equipment. Whereas Fermilab was using transistors in electronics, in the USSR they were still using tubes. I’ll never forget the look on the face of one of the Russian technicians when I bundled some cables with a cable tie.

I went on to briefly work on the electron cooling project, and then the Energy Doubler project. I constructed cryogenic double turns around boxes, tested cryogenic magnet quench valves and supervised the installation of the last cryogenic magnet in the Main Ring.

After that, I worked on the vacuum system for the Antiproton Ring. My next major job was the DZero experiment. Most of my time was spent handling all aspects of cabling for the experiment. If you have a chance to take a tour of the DZero experiment, you will appreciate the amount of cabling that was used. There was hardly a cable that did not go through my hands in the process of purchasing, terminating, testing, labeling, installing or repairing. When all of the cabling was finished, I worked as a system administrator on the Windows platform servers. When the running of the DZero detector concluded, I moved on to my current job in Computing administering Windows servers.

I will miss this place and the people I have worked with and met during my 45 years here. Some of the things I’ll miss: Nalrec parties, bus trips to sporting events, Users Center happy hours, 200-GeV party in the basement of Wilson Hall, softball/volleyball/bowling/golf leagues, family picnics and Warrenville Bowl. Every now and then, a few of my cronies will run into each other and have an opportunity to talk about the “good old days” and have a good laugh. It never fails that during the reminiscing a few co-workers will slowly gather around and listen in and ask questions. I swear I could probably do a comedy routine with all of the memories that I have of Fermilab.

So, what happens after I retire? The first day I will no doubt get up, get dressed and get in the car and start driving to Fermilab before I realize I don’t work there anymore. I have twin daughters that will be in their second year of college, so I will probably find some place to work to help with student loans. If not, my wife and I will go and watch the girls play softball at their respective schools. That will probably last a couple of weeks until I get banned from the ball parks for yelling at the umpires.

Ed Podschweit is a member of the Core Computing Division Enterprise Services Operations Department working in Windows Server Services.