One minute with Stephanie Timpone, engineering physicist

Stephanie Timpone works on electronics for the CMS experiment at Fermilab’s SiDet facility. Photo: Reidar Hahn

How long have you worked at Fermilab?
I’ve worked at Fermilab for three-and-a-half years now. Before coming here, I was a high school physics teacher for three years, but I was looking to break into engineering.

What led you to Fermilab?
Coming from a physics background, the engineering physicist position, which is what I do now, was a perfect mix of engineering and physics for me. It was a good way of getting my foot in the door and gaining engineering skills. Plus, I always knew about Fermilab from studying physics in college so it was such an exciting prospect to work here.

What does a typical day in the life of an engineering physicist look like at Fermilab?
I don’t know if there is a typical day! Other engineering physicists I know all do different things. I work in the Particle Physics Division Mechanical Engineering Department and at SiDet [Silicon Detector Facility], and I do a lot of design work like designing tooling for building detector assemblies. I also coordinate the assembly and integration of the detectors, so there is a lot of hands-on work, which I love.

What’s your favorite thing about working here?
It’s a tie between the uniqueness of the work is and how smart and passionate my colleagues are. Working with people from all over the world and being exposed to that is also a really fun part of the job.

What teaching skills have you transferred to your work at Fermilab?
Presentation and interpersonal skills that I gained from teaching have definitely helped me in my work and communicating with different audiences. I interface daily with scientists, engineers, technicians, vendors and students, and teaching has made it easier to effectively communicate my ideas, questions and solutions.

Is there anything else you’re involved in at Fermilab?
I have done a lot of outreach this year, like giving tours at SiDet. I did some outreach working with a STEM initiative for Girl Scouts in the area, and I was involved in a lot of the planning for the tours of SiDet for Fermilab’s 50th anniversary. Having the teaching background has sort of facilitated that kind of outreach. I also had the opportunity to give presentations about my work with CMS at an evening event at the Adler Planetarium recently.

What’s one thing about you that might surprise people?
I did an Ironman triathlon a few years ago. It was the hardest 12-and-a-half hours of my life. I started doing short triathlons and got really into the sport, so went on to longer and longer ones and then eventually just told myself to commit to an Ironman – and I did it!

What do you do outside of work?
I like to stay active, and I’ve recently been thinking about races I can do next summer. I live in downtown Chicago and I like to take advantage of what the city offers, so going to museums and concerts and street festivals – that kind of thing. I am also working on finishing my master’s in materials science at Illinois Institute of Technology. This is something the lab has been very supportive of since I started working here.