Mark Kaletka, of the Core Computing Division, is wishing Fermilab farewell after 32 years on Feb. 4. Mark’s first day working at the lab was Aug. 1, 1989, when he joined what was then the Research Division as head of the Networking Group. A few months later, the Computing Division came into being, subsuming the Networking Group, and Mark has spent his Fermilab career in Computing ever since.
Mark earned his doctorate in nuclear physics from Northwestern University and then conducted research and wrote his thesis at LANL’s medium-energy accelerator complex. He was hired to run the complex’s data analysis center, then moved into a similar position at MIT’s Laboratory for Nuclear Science, where he and other staff managed VAX/VMS systems. After getting to know members of our Networking Group while working at MIT, Mark eventually came to work at Fermilab at the time the SSC was being built. DECnet, which was being used at the time for peer-to-peer networking, was becoming an ancient technology, so many discussions regarding how all of the DOE labs could coordinate their wide area networks were taking place.
As the head of the Fermilab Networking Group, Mark and his team introduced the first high-speed backbone to the lab, the Fiber Distributed Data Interconnect, or FDDI, which was the follow up to ethernet and boasted a whopping speed of 100 megabits per second!
Eventually, Mark became the deputy department head of what has evolved into the Core Computing Division. He also spent some time as a deputy and department head overseeing scientific computing systems including farms and mass storage. This gave him a new set of knowledge. Once the Computing Division was separated into the core and scientific computing divisions, Mark became the deputy CCD division head under Jon Bakken.
“I’ve relied on Mark’s wide breadth of technical skills, his common-sense approach to accomplishing tasks and his willingness to accept any assignment and get the job done,” said Bakken.
Since April, Mark has also served as the lab’s facility security officer, a role responsible for managing the lab’s safeguards and security systems including cybersecurity, physical security, property protection and export controls and badging and foreign national access. Ultimately, he’s responsible for the Site Security Plan, which details all of our security responsibilities and shows our compliance with many DOE orders.
Looking back over his 32-year career at Fermilab, Mark said, “I’m most proud of the people I’ve been able to help to advance at the lab, get over certain limitations, helped to become a good leader.”
In retirement, Mark has a honey-do list to work on, and along with his wife, Cindy, he plans to travel more often and spend more time doing photography. He’s looking forward to taking his camper, which hasn’t been out of the driveway in two years, out west. And pick up rocks. Lots of rocks. Geology is another minor passion.
“I’ve known a lot of really good people at the lab. It’s been a long and interesting road, and I’ve gotten to see a lot of great things.”
“Mark told me he originally went into computing because he didn’t want to deal with complaints from people,” said Bakken. “However, working with people, both as a team player and a leader, is also one of Mark’s key strengths, and he will be sorely missed. We all wish Mark well and a long and happy retirement!”