Student testimonials

The Accelerator Science and Engineering Traineeship (ASET) program at MSU offers PhD and master's graduate students in physics and astronomy and engineering an exciting training opportunity.

Best nuclear physics programs

The ASET program is part of MSU’s number-one-ranked nuclear physics graduate program, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s rankings of graduate schools. Additionally, each year approximately 26 percent of U.S. nuclear physics graduate students receive part of their training at MSU.

 Below are testimonials from some of the program’s current students.

scott anthony

Scott AnthonyScott Anthony is majoring in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University. He is assisting with the mechanical engineering of the FRIB cryogenic systems. His advisors are Abraham Engeda, a professor of mechanical engineering from the MSU College of Engineering, and Peter Knudsen, senior cryogenic process engineer at FRIB. Scott joined the ASET program in in spring 2021.

What are your research responsibilities?
As an engineering student at MSU, I was attracted to NSCL/FRIB. As soon as I found out about FRIB, I applied for a position at the lab. When I was awarded an interview during my sophomore year, I learned about cryogenics and the MSU Cryogenic Initiative, and I instantly knew the initiative was something I wanted to be a part of. Additionally, cryogenics is a unique and interesting field that I am eager to learn more about, especially from leaders in the field and all of those associated with the ASET program and the MSU Cryogenic Initiative.

How do you think participating in the ASET program will benefit your career?
I have gained experience working under deadlines and working under pressure. Working closely with engineers has also taught me how many engineers work, plan, and perform tasks. These experiences will continue to benefit my career as an engineer

Where you are in the program so far, what is the best part or what are you enjoying and/or learning the most? What has been most rewarding?
I am a junior mechanical engineering student at Michigan State University. My position in the program so far is applying what I learn in class to matters that occur at the FRIB, working with SolidWorks, learning how to read and develop piping and instrumentation diagrams (P&ID's), learning different equipment and parts, as well as learning about what it takes to work for a world class laboratory. The best part is learning about aspects of engineering and running a lab that I would otherwise not have the opportunity to learn. Thus far, I have enjoyed leaning how to read and write P&ID’s as well as how to carry out a pneumatic pressure test. Continuing to learn and meet people at FRIB has been the most rewarding aspect of the ASET program.

Would you recommend to other students this program? Why?
I would highly recommend this program to other students who are serious about their studies and who are eager to learn about cryogenics, a subject that is otherwise not taught in class. You will gain many experiences during your time in the ASET program that will apply to the private sector, as well as experiences you will only gain by working for a world-class laboratory, like FRIB. If the ASET program is something you want to be a part of, do not hesitate to apply.


MICHAEL BALCEWICZ

Michael Balcewicz

Michael Balcewicz is pursuing a PhD in physics at Michigan State University with Professor Yue Hao serving as his advisor. He is from Aliso Viejo, California. For his research topic, he intends to research generalizing a square potential well beam model to accommodate multiple square wells. Michael joined the ASET program in spring 2018.

What are your research responsibilities?
My research topic is on generalizing a square potential well beam model to accommodate multiple square wells.  The square wells are interesting to study because they are analytically solvable and can be used to study and better understand what physical parameters create instabilities in a beam. To this point however, only one potential well has been used for these models, which limits its applicability to real systems.  Adding multiple square wells allows the model to more closely model a real beam. 

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit your career?
Since I want to work at a national laboratory after graduation, doing my thesis research at national laboratory will help me get a foot in the door.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
I am interested in Brookhaven National Laboratory. They have a lot of interesting work with the possible upgrade to the high energy electron-ion collider as well as light source work at the National Synchrotron Light Source II.

 

CRISTHIAN GONZALEZ-ORTIZ

Cristhian Gonzalez-Ortiz

Cristhian Gonzalez-Ortiz is a PhD student from Bogota, Colombia, pursuing a degree in physics at Michigan State University. Professor of Physics Peter Ostroumov serves as his advisor. For his research topic, he is studying storage rings for low-energy radioactive isotope beams. Cristhian joined the ASET program in fall 2019.

What are your research responsibilities?
I am looking into the main subsystems that comprise a low-energy storage ring. Specifically, I am performing particle-tracking simulations focusing on the mass separation capabilities of such rings. Additionally, I am trying to estimate the operation conditions for the electron cooling system of such a ring. The end goal is to look at the feasibility and usability of building a low-energy heavy-ion storage ring at FRIB. 

What interested you about the ASET program/pursuing this educational path?
I think accelerator sciences is the intersection between fundamental physics and applied physics. It's right there, in that sweet spot, where I find physics the most exciting and interesting. The ASET program will give me the proper tools in order to contribute and succeed in this field of physics.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit your career?
The ASET program at MSU will allow me to immerse successfully in the accelerator science world. All the courses taught under this program will allow me to build my theoretical knowledge and the intuition for the physical processes in question. Furthermore, the ASET program is helping me build the right connections in order to make meaningful contributions to the field.

What career path do you plan to pursue at this point?
Right now, my career plan is to graduate with my PhD and join a national laboratory as a research associate in order to put my fresh skills to work. Down the road, I would like to join a university as an associate professor.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory - at which laboratory are you interested in furthering your training, and what are you research interests there?
I am interested in furthering my training at Brookhaven National Laboratory, where I will be able to contribute to the development of the EIC (Electron Ion Collider)--the next big project in American physics.

Would you recommend the ASET program to other students? Why?
I would definitely recommend the ASET program to other students, because the people running this program want you to succeed. Faculty in charge of the ASET program will not only help you develop the theoretical and practical skills for accelerator sciences, but they will also acknowledge you as an important piece of this field's future. For me, that is very important. 

 

JONATHON HOWARD

Jonathon Howard

Jonathon Howard is a PhD student advised by Professor of Engineering Abraham Engeda, and FRIB Senior Cryogenic Process Engineer Peter Knudsen. He is researching cryogenic turbomachinery. Jonathon joined the ASET program in spring 2019.

What are your research responsibilities?
My current research involves the development of a compressor impeller design and performance prediction code. The goal of this research is to create a robust code that can be utilized in the design of compressors found in sub-atmosphere cryogenic helium systems.  

What interested you about the ASET program/pursuing this educational path?
During my undergraduate studies, I was interested in aeronautics/aerospace and found myself looking for opportunities to further my education in a manner that could translate to a position in those fields. My interests made the ASET program very desirable, as I could use the knowledge learned from the cryogenic and turbomachinery departments to achieve my career goals.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
The ASET program at MSU involves working at a world-class facility which employs many leaders in physics and engineering. The amount of knowledge that can be learned from working at FRIB would have a large impact on anyone who is prepared to learn and willing to work hard. I believe the knowledge and experience that I gain during my time in the ASET program will be very beneficial in the pursuit of my future career.

What career path do you plan to pursue at this point?
The career path that I am most interested in pursuing is working in the aeronautical or aerospace industry. I am also interested in working as a process engineer at a cryogenic or power plant. 

Would you recommend the ASET program to other students? Why?
Yes, I would highly recommend the ASET program to other students. It isn’t often that a graduate student would have the opportunity to be involved in the construction of a world-class accelerator facility. Working at FRIB allows insight into the process of creating the entire system involved with the accelerator, and would be very valuable to any student interested in going into a career associated with accelerators or accelerator support systems.

Is there anything else you would like to add about your experience with MSU’s ASET program?
The integration of the College of Engineering and FRIB has been beneficial, with the addition of classes that introduce engineering students to the technologies utilized at FRIB. I hope to see new engineering students joining the program in the future.

 

DUNCAN KROLL

Duncan Kroll

Duncan Kroll is a PhD student pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University. His advisors are Abraham Engeda, a professor of mechanical engineering from the MSU College of Engineering, and Peter Knudsen, senior cryogenic process engineer at FRIB. For his research, he is attempting to characterize the deposition of frost onto heat exchanger surfaces from helium. Duncan joined the ASET program in fall 2018.

What are your research responsibilities?
My research responsibilities have included process design and optimization of a helium purifier (which I designed mechanically for my master's degree), characterizing frost collection from a stream of air or helium, as well as modeling, measuring, and evaluating data for various aspects regarding the operation of the FRIB. These include partial load operation of turbines and compressors, purifier water and air capacity, and purifier liquid nitrogen and helium usage.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
It will give me the opportunity to make a lot of connections and work at a world-class facility. My initial interest came from funding opportunities for master’s students at FRIB and a referral from a mentor, but I have been interested in accelerator science ever since I toured NSCL with my high-school chemistry class.

 

KELLEN E. MCGEE

Kellen E. McGee

Kellen E. McGee is a graduate student from Oxford, Michigan, pursuing a PhD in nuclear or accelerator physics. She is researching the superconducting radio frequency on FRIB energy-upgrade elliptical cavities. Kellen joined the ASET program in spring 2018.

What are your research responsibilities?
The beta=0.65 644MHz cavities are in the prototype research and development stages. I perform exploratory measurements as we work to determine the production parameters for FRIB implementation. This includes field flatness measurements, quality-factor (Q-factor) measurements, and research regarding cavity processing techniques to increase Q factor.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
I think the program has the unique potential to connect me to opportunities in the world of national laboratories and accelerator physics should I choose that route. If I do not choose that route, I still value the technical introduction to truly unique systems engineering challenges.    

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
I am interested in the Brookhaven National Laboratory or Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and there are connections between my current research and ongoing work at Argonne National Laboratory and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

 

JOSEPH D. WILLIAMS

Joseph D. Williams

Joseph D. Williams is pursuing a PhD. He is being advised by Professor of Physics and Astronomy Chong-Yu Ruan. Williams is researching nanoscale phase transitions through ultrafast electron imaging and spectroscopy. Joseph joined the ASET program in spring 2018.

What are your research responsibilities?
I complete maintenance and further development of our laboratory’s ultrafast electron microscopy system to study nanoscale phase transitions in condensed matter systems with 100-femtosecond time resolution. To achieve this short time resolution, we use folding segment laser pulses to generate ultrashort electron bunches that are then compressed by the alternating electric field of a synchronized radio-frequency signal. The time resolution of our electron bunches is highly dependent on the synchronization between the electron pulse generating laser and the compressing radio-frequency field. I am currently working on improving our laser radio-frequency synchronization.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
The ASET program will allow me to learn from experts in direct-current photoelectron guns and radio-frequency cavity technology so I can apply advanced techniques to the improvement of our ultrafast electron microscopy system.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
I would like to visit the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility to learn more about high-voltage direct-current photoelectron guns.


TASHA L. WILLIAMS

Tasha L. Williams

Tasha L. Williams is pursuing a PhD in mechanical engineering at Michigan State University. She is from Melbourne, Florida. Tasha is being advised by Professor of Engineering Abraham Engeda, and FRIB Senior Cryogenic Process Engineer Peter Knudsen. She is researching the improvement and efficiency of rotary screw compressors. She became interested in the ASET program when she heard about so many others excelling in her field while studying there. Tasha joined the ASET program in fall 2018.

What are your research responsibilities?
My research responsibilities include attempting to characterize and better understand the helium compression process in a rotary screw compressor that uses oil for cooling. In particular, I research the nature of the helium-oil thermal equilibrium (or non-equilibrium), and how that influences the effective polytropic coefficient for the compression process.

How do you think participating in the ASET program at MSU will benefit for your career?
I think it will help catapult me and put me in connection with the right people while also preparing to fill the role.

The ASET program can support your stay at a national laboratory – at which laboratory are you interested in further your training and what are your research interests there?
The energy-efficiency and cryogenics programs at Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, or Brookhaven National Laboratory.

 

Click here to read testimonials of past ASET students.