MSU hosts U.S. Particle Acceleration School

  • Jun 15, 2018

From the 4th through the 15th of June, Michigan State University (MSU) hosted the summer 2018 session of the U.S. Particle Accelerator School (USPAS), a national graduate-level training and workforce development program in accelerator science and engineering funded by the Office of High Energy Physics in the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science (DOE-SC).

Particle accelerators are used in discovery science, medicine, and high-tech industry. USPAS trains graduate students as well as scientists and engineers in rigorous courses that are designed to support the needs of the field.

This intensive two-week session of USPAS was held at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center on MSU’s campus. Nine courses were offered at the MSU session and over 130 students from all over the world attended. This is the third time that MSU has hosted the USPAS. Of the twenty-two instructors teaching at this summer’s school, nine are from MSU. The MSU instructors are experts in accelerator physics, ion source physics, and cryogenic engineering. They are affiliated with FRIB, the National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory (NSCL), the MSU Department of Physics and Astronomy, and the MSU Department of Mechanical Engineering.

USPAS has offered graduate-level accelerator science and engineering courses in an intensive-school format since 1981. USPAS courses and documentation have been recognized for excellence and the school has had a positive impact on the field. The school is intended not only to meet the needs of national laboratories, but to educate people to develop particle accelerators for use in other fields, including industrial and medical applications. The USPAS offers a continually updated curriculum of courses ranging from fundamentals of accelerator science to advanced physics and engineering concepts.

Under construction on the MSU campus is the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a future DOE-SC scientific user facility, supporting the mission of the Nuclear Physics Office in DOE-SC. At the heart of FRIB is the most powerful, superconducting linear accelerator that will accelerate heavy ions to about half the speed of light. FRIB will enable scientists to make discoveries about the properties of rare isotopes, supporting a community of currently 1,400 scientists.

Having available and training a workforce in accelerator science and engineering is an important part of FRIB.

FRIB provides hands-on opportunity to train the next-generation accelerator science and engineering workers on a world-class accelerator. In collaboration with the College of Natural Science and the College of Engineering, FRIB attracts the best and brightest students into accelerator science and engineering.

FRIB Professor of Physics Steve Lund is the director of the USPAS. “MSU has been a superb host of USPAS. Courses are being held in unique facilities on campus and the departments have sent many talented students and have provided a high level of instructor and grader support,” Lund said.

USPAS sessions are held every year in June and January. USPAS students come from all a broad range of educational and practical experience. The courses are aimed toward upper-level undergraduates and graduate students. The students are highly selected and motivated. They are from laboratories, private companies, government, or the military. Some come from abroad. Some of the students have been working in the accelerator field and are expanding their skills to support and extend the latest technology as the field evolves.

[photo of students working on a project at the Summer 2018 USPAS session.]

Students in the 2018 U.S. Particle Accelerator School (USPAS) summer session held at Michigan State University work together on a project. Over 130 students from around the world attended the intensive two-week session at MSU.
Photo credit: Irina Novitski, USPAS


Contacts for this article: Karen King, FRIB and Prof. Steve Lund, MSU Dept. of Physics & Astronomy, FRIB and USPAS.


The USPAS collaboration includes Argonne National Laboratory, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility, all U.S. DOE Office of Science labs; Los Alamos National Laboratory, a U.S. DOE National Nuclear Security Agency lab; Cornell University and Michigan State University.