WORK, Work, work . . .

I was an electronics engineer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California from 1977 to 2005.

I worked from 1978 to 1995 specializing in instrumentation & control systems for large superconducting magnets associated with Magnetic Fusion Energy (MFE) experiments.  The most recent projects that I had worked on were Princeton's (now defunct) Tokamak Physics Experiment (TPX) and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).  I was the Operations Manager of the High-Field Test Facility and the FENIX Test Facility. In the early '90s, FENIX was the 1st location in the world where large 50-kA, 12-Tesla, Nb3Sn superconductors could be tested under full-field operating conditions.  Most of my papers on the development of quench-detection methods & sensors, and our test facilities & projects are available here.

With MFE funding taking it in the shorts from a rather short-sighted Congress, I made a major career change in late '95 & moved to the Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation (AVLIS) Program.  I developed prototype process-control systems with LabVIEW on networked computer systems. The non-linear, closed-loop control algorithms, process logic, and user interfaces were developed & debugged at our AVLIS Demonstration Facility.

According to our system integration contractor, Bechtel, the Uranium Enrichment Plant we were designing for the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) will, when complete, be the largest process-control system in the world with greater than 70,000 I/O points.

On June 9th, 1999, USEC stopped its funding of the AVLIS program at LLNL.  This work was some of my best, but it is USEC proprietary AND classified confidential, so no public documents are available.

In August 1999, I moved to the FXR project to replace their aging & independent computer-based control systems.  The new Contained Firing Facility was being built at the end of FXR, on the Bunker 801 firing table at the time.   During this work, funding for the controls upgrade (operations) became very slim, but separately funded diagnostics work brought new data acquisition & beam diagnostic systems to integrate.  My system design evolved into 15 computer & PLC systems that integrated the accelerator controls, data acquisition, archiving, & analysis systems.

I took an early retirement in 2005.

Did some consulting over the next few years, but it sucks when you have to take a company to court to get them to pay you.  Especially when they must be served in Texas!

In 2011, I became a certified MSF RiderCoach, and teach occasionally.


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1995-2011, Mike Chaplin <catfish at endorphin-express dot com>