Accelerator Operator Interview

In summary: The book does cover most types of accelerators, but excludes the BNL contribution to alternating gradient focusing in the 1950's.
  • #1
azaharak
152
0
Hi

I have an upcoming accelerator Operator Interview with BNL, does anyone have any last minute pointers or advice.

Thanks everyone

Best

Az
 
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  • #2
  • #3
What's the relevance between Humphries book and being an accelerator operator? An accelerator operator is NOT an accelerator physicist, although an accelerator physicist can be an accelerator operator.

Zz.
 
  • #4
I disagree with Bob's advice. It's an interview, not a quiz on what you will be taught if you get offered the job. I think the really tough question will be "where do you see yourself in five years".
 
  • #5
Vanadium 50 said:
I think the really tough question will be "where do you see yourself in five years".

Ouch :eek:.
 
  • #6
Thanks everyone so far, and anyone else who replies after this.

I myself was a little spooked after Bob's post. I have a M.A. in physics so I know enough to get by, but obviously no where near what a particle physicist knows. Any further advice tips are greatly appreciated.

Best

Az
 
  • #7
Your MA is fine for this position. They just want to make sure you are sensible and have flexible hours (which you have to be).

You didn't say for which facility at BNL you'll be interviewing for (NSLS? RHIC? ATF?).

Zz.
 
  • #8
Thanks.

Honestly I don't know, I believe its for the main control room. Human resources would not tell me much, and getting my foot in the door was a 2 year long journey. Its rotating shift, which is something that I do not mind at all. I've been teaching in various adjunct positions in the meantime and this is my first break at a full time position that I'm really interested in.

Thanks again
 
  • #9
azaharak said:
Thanks.

Honestly I don't know, I believe its for the main control room. Human resources would not tell me much, and getting my foot in the door was a 2 year long journey. Its rotating shift, which is something that I do not mind at all. I've been teaching in various adjunct positions in the meantime and this is my first break at a full time position that I'm really interested in.

Thanks again

There isn't one main control room. The NSLS and RHIC are separate facilities and have their own accelerators/beam control monitoring.

Maybe what you should do right now is familiarize yourself with all the facilities at BNL, especially the ones with accelerators.Zz.
 
  • #10
Concentrate on being someone they really believe can pick up the work easily and that they want working for/with/around them.

People sometimes forget that a job isn't just about doing the work, it's about making work life livable, and the quality of people you work around can make a huge difference. Maybe this job is exempt from that, but I wouldn't count on it.
 
  • #11
kote said:
Ouch

Why do you say this? This is very likely to come up, and it won't be easy. On the one hand, they won't want to hire someone without ambition. On the other, it takes several years of being an operator before one starts to get really good at it. There is a natural tension here, and that makes this a question that one should think about.
 
  • #12
Vanadium 50 said:
Why do you say this? This is very likely to come up, and it won't be easy. On the one hand, they won't want to hire someone without ambition. On the other, it takes several years of being an operator before one starts to get really good at it. There is a natural tension here, and that makes this a question that one should think about.

Actually I totally misread the OP and thought he would be interviewing someone else who is already doing the job, for a report or something. In that case, asking them where they see themselves could come off as insulting.

But I misread :smile:.
 
  • #13
The best accelerator operators in the past have been undergraduate physics majors, because in undergraduate E & M they have been exposed to the equations of motion of charged particles in magnetic fields, and the concept of e/m and the Lorentz force. Basic accelerator concepts such as the cyclotron accelerator and betatron acccelerator also are sometimes taught to undergraduate physics majors. In any case, undergraduate physics majors have been exposed to all the basic tools for understanding charged particle accelerators.

Humphries' book covers most types of charged particle accelerators, and requires no new physics concepts beyond undergraduate E & M. For me, it would have been a much easier read than Dirac's book on Quantum Mechanics. No textbook on accelerators is perfect, and Humphries' book is no exception. But it does expose the reader to most types of accelerators. One glaring overlook is the total exclusion of the BNL contribution to alternating gradient focusing in the 1950's, including any reference to the Courant, Livingston and Schneider paper.

All accelerator operators must get training in radioactivation, radiation shielding, radioactivity, ionizing radiation, rads, rems, half lives, etc. None of this is included in any accelerator physics book. Having an undergraduate nuclear physics course that covers nuclear activation cross sections and beta decay is certainly helpful.

Any applicant for an accelerator operator position who does not aspire to a higher position than just operating accelerators (including finding vacuum leaks, disconnected cables, and radioactivity hot spots) is not as good a hire as someone who wants to learn more about how accelerators really work. Certainly having someone in the control room who understands how magnets bend (and focus) particle beams, and how resonant RF cavities can accelerate beams is an asset to the accelerator team. Certainly more than someone whose main interest is string theory.

Go for it, Az.

Bob S
 
  • #14
Bob S said:
All accelerator operators must get training in radioactivation, radiation shielding, radioactivity, ionizing radiation, rads, rems, half lives, etc. None of this is included in any accelerator physics book. Having an undergraduate nuclear physics course that covers nuclear activation cross sections and beta decay is certainly helpful.

Then why did you recommended one in the first place? You were the ONLY person who recommended an accelerator physics book. No one else did.

Any applicant for an accelerator operator position who does not aspire to a higher position than just operating accelerators (including finding vacuum leaks, disconnected cables, and radioactivity hot spots) is not as good a hire as someone who wants to learn more about how accelerators really work. Certainly having someone in the control room who understands how magnets bend (and focus) particle beams, and how resonant RF cavities can accelerate beams is an asset to the accelerator team. Certainly more than someone whose main interest is string theory.

Many people who got hired as accelerator operators did NOT start out as people having a good understanding of accelerator operations. These are all on-the-job training, and most will learn about accelerator physics while they are on the job. Knowing about magnets comes with the qualification of having a Masters Degree in physics, that's why it is a common requirement for that job.

It still boils down to the idea that recommending someone to learn from the Humphries book for this position is an overkill.

Zz.
 
  • #15
ZapperZ said:
Many people who got hired as accelerator operators did NOT start out as people having a good understanding of accelerator operations. These are all on-the-job training, and most will learn about accelerator physics while they are on the job. Knowing about magnets comes with the qualification of having a Masters Degree in physics, that's why it is a common requirement for that job.

It still boils down to the idea that recommending someone to learn from the Humphries book for this position is an overkill.

Zz.

Agreed. I run two 11MeV Cyclotrons (simultaneously) as well as Chemistry equipment. I have no formal education beyond a GED. It is the most consuming job I have had. It requires a lot of logic and mechanics and a little physics.

I had no clue how one worked prior to mid 08 I know as much if not more than the Engineer in charge of it now.
 

1. What is an accelerator operator?

An accelerator operator is a scientist who operates and maintains an accelerator, which is a machine that accelerates particles to high speeds for use in research and experiments.

2. What are the responsibilities of an accelerator operator?

The responsibilities of an accelerator operator include operating and monitoring the accelerator, ensuring its safe and efficient operation, troubleshooting any issues that may arise, and performing routine maintenance and repairs.

3. What qualifications are needed to become an accelerator operator?

Most accelerator operators have a degree in physics, engineering, or a related field. They also receive extensive on-the-job training to learn the specific skills and knowledge required for operating the particular accelerator they work with.

4. What skills are important for an accelerator operator to have?

An accelerator operator should have strong analytical and problem-solving skills, as well as technical skills in areas such as electronics, mechanics, and vacuum systems. They should also have good communication and teamwork abilities, as they often work with a team of scientists and engineers.

5. What is the career outlook for accelerator operators?

The demand for accelerator operators is expected to grow as research in fields like particle physics and materials science continues to expand. Additionally, many current accelerator operators are approaching retirement age, creating opportunities for new operators to enter the field.

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