Accelerator Traineeship Advisory Panel (ATAP)

The Accelerator Traineeship Advisory Panel (ATAP) is a national advisory committee established to help guide MSU’s Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship program and its outcomes. Members are Mei Bai (SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory), John Byrd (Argonne National Laboratory), and Sergei Nagaitsev (Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, University of Chicago) - chairperson.


2 June 2022

ATAP held a meeting on 2 June 2022. The focus was to review the Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program at MSU and to provide recommendations to the FRIB Laboratory director. ASET is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (Office of High Energy Physics), and a DOE-SC representative participated in the meeting.

ATAP heard presentations from the ASET team as well as reports from the students. ATAP said the presentations from the ASET leadership team and principal investigators were comprehensive and well informed. The panel was also impressed by the presentations of the students and said the breadth of topics was commendable

ATAP’s key findings include:

  • ATAP believes the program is functioning well. All four areas of the original funding opportunity announcement are addressed:
    1. Physics of large accelerators and systems engineering (12 students at present)
    2. Superconducting radiofrequency accelerator physics and engineering (2 students)
    3. Radiofrequency power system engineering (5 students)
    4. Cryogenic systems engineering (3 students)
  • This is a very healthy program, which ATAP thinks has reached its steady state capacity, given the current ASET faculty levels. ATAP believes the combination of the excellent performance of ASET, the prominence of the MSU nuclear physics program, the presence of FRIB at MSU, and the size and prominence of the Engineering department has made ASET a successful program and may serve as a model for other traineeship programs.
  • This year, eight ASET students received Accelerator Science & Engineering certificates, bringing the total number to 12. ATAP believes this to be a valuable component of the program and of the overall student experience.
  • ATAP is encouraged by the current experience of the students at the national labs. Students are engaged with national labs in four different ways in the ASET program, and all appear to be meaningful and valuable to students in the program:
    1. Summer internships
    2. Accelerator physics and engineering bi-weekly seminars
    3. Thesis research at national labs
    4. Adjunct professor lectures and classes
  • ATAP encourages finding ways to simplify the placement of students in national lab research programs.
  • ATAP thinks that there is an opportunity to expand the current curriculum to broader accelerator and beam-related topics such as beam diagnostics, radiation effects, etc. (which may not be currently addressed by USPAS, for example).
  • ATAP commends the team for all the successful recruitment efforts. The team has put together a coherent strategy to recruit students from undergraduate to PhDs. Thanks to the commitment of MSU support to ASET, the percentage of ASET students in the Physics and Astronomy Department has now risen to 17 percent, a very impressive achievement.
  • ASET has produced six PhDs and four Master of Science degrees over the course of the five-year program, with the promise of several more over the next few years (expecting three to four graduating students in the next two years and five to six afterward). For the current trajectory of this program, the ASET program could become one of the most productive programs in the country. With the current high level of new accelerator projects either under consideration, in design or construction, or recently commissioned, ATAP believes the workforce needs will continue to grow.
  • ATAP strongly supports the extension of the ASET program for another five years as well as any bridge funding needed between the end of the current program and the start of a second five-year program.

ATAP appreciates the effort of the ASET team to put in efforts to address ATAP’s comments made at the previous meetings and commends the ASET team’s excellent effort. ATAP also appreciates the ASET seminar series that exposes students to what is going on elsewhere in the fields. ATAP encourages the ASET team to work with other labs’ seminar organizers to have ASET students sharing their work to other labs.

ATAP provided detailed answers to all charge questions and made suggestions to advance the ASET program.

The next ATAP meeting will be in May 2023.

Previous meetings