There is currently a shortfall of particle physicists trained to design instruments that open pathways to Nobel Prize-winning discoveries like neutrino oscillations and the Higgs boson. To help fill the gap, the U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $3.7 million to a consortium led by the University of California, Davis, to train 32 graduate students in high-energy physics instrumentation.
High-energy physics encompasses both fundamental research about the universe and applied technologies, such as particle accelerators for medical imaging and semiconductor manufacturing. Surveys have identified a long-standing workforce training deficit in this field according to the DOE, which aims to build a diverse, skilled pipeline of experts in high-energy physics instrumentation.
The new program, called the High Energy Physics Consortium for Advanced Training, or HEPCAT, will emphasize hands-on experience, with students overseeing a complete cycle of conceptual design, prototyping, testing, fabricating, commissioning and calibrating complex instruments. Each student will work with mentors from across 10 universities and five national laboratories, with a focus on topics such as sensors for extreme environments, electronics and data acquisition systems.
The consortium includes researchers at seven other University of California campuses (Berkeley, Irvine, Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz), Stanford University, Caltech and five national laboratories (Berkeley, Livermore, Los Alamos, Sandia and SLAC).
Each student in the HEPCAT program will receive two years of financial support, including travel to work at a national laboratory and attend a summer training program (modeled on the Nuclear Analytical Techniques summer school hosted by the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium). HEPCAT plans to accept at least 10 female graduate students and at least seven students from underrepresented groups (of any gender).