Fermilab hosts an ‘epic event’ for the EPICS community

The first EPICS collaboration meeting ever hosted at Fermilab came to a successful close on Friday, April 28. EPICS, or Experimental Physics and Industrial Control System, is a set of open-source software tools and applications that provide a software infrastructure for use in building distributed control systems.

With Fermilab’s PIP-II accelerator adopting EPICS, the EPICS community has become a valued network of expertise. Fermilab had not previously hosted an EPICS event, but Erik Gottschalk, project manager for the ACORN accelerator controls modernization project, was approached by the head of the controls department at Argonne National Laboratory and asked if Fermilab would be willing to host the collaboration meeting. With the encouragement from Lab Director Lia Merminga, the event was formally proposed and approved in December 2022.

A group of EPICS users that attended the 2023 EPICS Collaboration Meeting at Fermilab assembled in front of Wilson Hall on April 26.

Historically, EPICS collaboration meetings bring together a global community of EPICS developers and users twice per year, alternating between North American, European and Asian locations. However, the pandemic derailed that regularity. According to EPICS council member, Pierrick Hanlet, a standard format for the meetings was generally expected, and the offering of both in-person and virtual attendance options were required. The local organizing committee set out to offer the collaboration meeting as a hybrid meeting, allowing for virtual and in-person participation. By the time of the event’s inaugural plenary session, 191 registrations had been accepted.

Members of the EPICS community who have a wide range of topics of interest to share volunteered content. In order to develop a scientific program for the event, the community was surveyed on areas of interest, such as AI/ML, control systems hardware, area detector, cybersecurity, control system architecture, transformational technologies, user interfaces, common platforms and other topics. The call for abstracts on these topics resulted in nearly 80 abstracts which were reviewed, accepted and populated into agendas for plenary sessions or workshops.

The result was a five-day event that consisted of seven workshops, 34 plenary session presentations and 19 “lightning” (five-minute) talks. Among the presenters were representatives from Fermilab, seven other national laboratories, Canada, Spain, Germany, France, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

During the closeout session, Karen White, EPICS council president, took the stage and thanked Fermilab for hosting a wonderfully productive event. Event chairman Erik Gottschalk acknowledged the importance of Fermilab becoming part of the EPICS community and in turn thanked those who traveled to the lab for the event, as well as the Fermilab support staff and all the presenters for their contributions to the program content.

If you are interested in any of the topics presented during the event, slides are available on the event’s Indico site.