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What is an accelerator operator?

First I'll explain the education one must have in order to be considered for an Accelerator Operator position. Jefferson Lab's typical Accelerator Operator has a bachelor of science degree in physics. Others are engineers or ex-Navy Nuclear Operators. We look for people that have a basic understanding of physics and are very good in math. Operators, when hired, are classified as Operator I's (ones) and then spend about six months learning how to operate the accelerator. Since our accelerator has many complex systems that are controlled from a number of computers in the Machine Control Center (MCC), we use their first six months to train them. Before they become an Accelerator Operator we make sure that we feel that we can rely on them to keep equipment safe and free from possible damage when no one else is around.

After about two to three years they are promoted to Operator II (two). By this time they are very efficient Accelerator Operators and are able to identify potential accelerator problems. Accelerator Operators are also responsible for training junior Operators. This is called our mentor program. This helps the new Operator know that someone is taking a personal interest in their training.

One to two years after they become an Accelerator Operator (again, they must study hard) they are promoted to Crew Chief. This is a highly respected position here at the lab. Crew Chiefs are responsible for any safety issues that might happen on site during their shift. They also supervise other Operators on their shift.

You might check out this story on one of our Program Deputies.


Ron Lauze, Accelerator Coordinator

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