Paul Czarapata is retiring after 50 years of service at Fermilab! Please join us as we celebrate his impressive career, the impact of his contributions, and his unwavering dedication to the laboratory on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at 10 a.m. on the Wilson Hall 2nd Floor Crossover.
Czarapata was hired on Oct. 30, 1972, when the lab was known only as the National Accelerator Laboratory. His career began as an electronics technician in the Meson Laboratory, which at that time was host to about half a dozen different switchyard experiments, fed by as many different secondary beamlines.
Czarapata became a Meson operations crew chief the following year. Once he completed his Bachelor of Science in physics at Benedictine University (then Illinois Benedictine), he served as head of electrical operations for Meson Lab, deputy head of the power systems group for the broader-reaching Experimental Areas Department, interlocks engineer for radiation safety in the Fixed Target Area, deputy head and then head of its Electronic/Electrical Department, all of which was a part of the Research Division.
Several people from RD moved to the Accelerator Division in the late 1990s, and John Peoples, Fermilab’s third director, asked Czarapata, who led EED for nine years, to join them as an assistant division head for engineering in 1996. Since joining AD, he has served as associate division head for engineering, deputy head of AD, associate head of AD and Fermilab’s deputy chief engineer, and he leaves the lab as AD’s director of the Accelerator Complex Technology Division.
Czarapata designed the first solid-state safety system at any DOE national laboratory and worked on the Superconducting Super Collider, International Linear Collider, Next Linear Collider, Project X and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey.
His career was impactful to accelerator operations, and his reach has been broad. Those who have had the pleasure of collaborating with him reflect fondly on their time together. In particular, Mayling Wong-Squires, the head of AD’s Mechanical Support Department and Fermilab’s chief engineer, shares her appreciation for his honesty, poise and great advice. His door is always open to everyone.
Czarapata’s last day as a Fermilab employee is Thursday, Jan. 26. He plans to visit Fermilab on occasion in retirement, but his first plan is to finish the airplane he’s been building in his basement. He likes to design and build electronics in his free time and still learns new things.
He leaves the lab’s engineers with these words of wisdom: “You won’t know all the answers, but someone you work with may. Use their experience and learn from it. One that my dad told me: ‘If your boss asks you a question, answer it truthfully, even if it makes you look like an idiot.’”