Sasha Makarov retires after 23 years at Fermilab

Sasha Makarov stands next to pictures of some of the magnets he has designed.

Sasha Makarov stands next to pictures of some of the magnets he has designed.

Engineer Sasha Makarov arrived at Fermilab for his first day of work on March 31, 1995. He came here to work under scientists Victor Yarba and Peter Limon to design magnets for the Fermilab Main Injector.

Now, after more than 23 years at the lab, Makarov is retiring. His last day is Wednesday, Oct. 31.

“I am really thankful to Victor and Peter for providing me such an opportunity,” Makarov said.

Makarov came to Fermilab after working for 16 years on magnet design at Efremov Institute in St. Petersburg, Russia. He had served as the head of a group responsible for the design of septum magnets — one of the most complicated types of magnets used in accelerators.

At Fermilab, he was assigned to the Technical Division’s Accelerator Support Group. This was lucky, Makarov said, because the position gave him the opportunity to work on many different and challenging projects. They demanded creativity and nonstandard approaches in magnet design, tooling and other systems.

At least one project he started soon after he came to the lab kept him on his toes. He was asked to work on a way to transport a faulty magnet — a particular type of magnet that could weigh as much as 10 tons — into and out of an oven for burning out epoxy. The risk lay in the fact that one might burn the wheel bearings on the transport cart. Being able to successfully remove the magnet along with the cart was a big deal.

Makarov’s supervisor at the time, John Carson, jokingly admonished him that two engineers who had tried to solve this problem before him were no longer working at Fermilab.

“Of course, it was a joke, but believe it or not, I took it seriously enough,” Makarov said.

And so he treated all his projects. He has since designed magnets for Argonne, Jefferson Lab, Los Alamos and SLAC. He was also involved in different R&D and tooling design efforts for the LHC quadrupole magnets.

His most challenging project, the one he regards as his top achievement, was the fabrication of the coils for Jefferson Lab’s CLAS12 torus magnet in 2015. For one, the coils were too big and heavy for Makarov’s team to build with the lab’s existing facilities, so they had to create the whole fabrication infrastructure at IB2. For another, the company that designed the coils failed to build it, as was the original plan, and the task fell to Fermilab. Makarov’s team responded with ingenuity, changing the coil design and creating a completely new fabrication concept.

“Eventually we succeeded!” he said.

Even with his multiple partner lab contributions, Makarov has focused most of his energy on Fermilab projects.

“Sasha has made valuable contributions to every accelerator running at Fermilab today,” said Dave Harding, Makarov’s supervisor. “He takes a magnetic design, figures out the mechanics of the device, and follows through on the production floor with the technicians.”

Makarov says his time at the lab has been as much about the people he worked with as the work itself.

“I’m really glad to have been a part of this great team for so many years,” Makarov said.

After retiring, Makarov and his wife will move to Russia to be closer to their family.

He says he will treasure the time he spent with friends and colleagues playing soccer and volleyball in the Fermilab athletic leagues and as a member of team Fermilab in the Aurora and Naperville leagues. He’s also enjoyed camping, canoeing, rafting and fishing with friends here.

“These moments will be in my memory forever,” Makarov said.

Wish Makarov well at a coffee-and-cake reception on Tuesday, Oct. 30, from 2-3 p.m. in the IARC OTE lunchroom, located on the building’s second floor.