U.S. Particle Accelerator School

Overview

The U.S. Particle Accelerator School (USPAS) is a national graduate-level program that provides training and workforce development in the science and technology of charged particle accelerators and associated systems. Particle accelerators are recognized as vital tools in discovery science and high technology industry. Present and future anticipated shortfalls in the accelerator workforce result in many exciting job opportunities in this field. USPAS courses provide training that helps prepare our students to work in this diverse, exciting, and high-impact field. A broad variety of students attend our sessions. We welcome students from all corners of the world, from universities, laboratories, private companies, medical facilities, government, and the military. Student backgrounds range from beginning graduate and undergraduate students in universities to experienced scientists and engineers. 

Courses offered by the USPAS are typically not available in standard university curricula and are delivered in an intensive format, allowing enrolled students to achieve competency in topics in a short period of time. This abbreviated format allows our students to take courses with minimal interference with their academic studies, research, and/or project work. Students and instructors often make valuable professional contacts at our sessions which enhances the experience. Students typically return for multiple sessions and report high satisfaction.

The USPAS is one of the nation’s premier intensive schools serving science and technology. The program has evolved from a series of symposium-style schools first held in 1981 to the present, academically rigorous, university-style schools that have been conducted since 1987. USPAS sessions are held twice a year (in January and in June) and are two weeks in duration. Sessions are delivered at locations distributed around the country, primarily in proximity to accelerator labs and facilities.

Major research universities sponsor each session and provide graduate- and undergraduate-level credit for USPAS courses. Each sponsor university vets instructors, course offerings, grants academic credit, and maintains student transcripts. Eligible students can earn host university credit by successfully completing the course requirements which include lectures, problem sets, and examinations. The USPAS, in a collaborative program with Indiana University Bloomington, also provides a Master’s of Science Degree based on USPAS courses. Several universities also can provide direct credit for their students who successfully complete USPAS courses.

Every USPAS course has a web page description stating: the purpose and audience, prerequisites, objectives, instructional methods, course contents, and reading and credit requirements. Typical USPAS course prerequisites are classical mechanics, electromagnetism, and special relativity at the junior or senior undergraduate level. Specific prerequisites are listed in each course description.

The USPAS has developed a diverse and continually-adapting curriculum of courses ranging from fundamentals of accelerator science to advanced physics and engineering topics. Our curricula is designed to help prepare our students for careers in accelerator science and technology in national laboratories, universities, industry, and medical research/facilities. Our instructors are chosen from respected leaders in their fields and are dedicated to delivering high-quality, advanced technology courses while conveying a rich variety of forefront knowledge.

USPAS courses have helped train many luminaries in accelerator science and technology. Course materials are often archived on the USPAS or instructor web sites and have become resources in many accelerator sub-fields. Numerous advanced textbooks have evolved from USPAS courses. Our instructors often clarify and stimulate new areas by conveying novel materials to students.

To attend our sessions, students pay a registration fee (includes course fees and materials as well as two meals a day), housing costs, and travel expenses. We offer limited financial support to both undergraduate and graduate students. Interested prospective students should contact us at uspas@fnal.gov.

More information about the USPAS and its programs can be found under Frequently Asked Questions.

Administration

The USPAS is primarily funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of High Energy Physics, which supports accelerator science and technology as a service to the field. The school administrative office is based at Fermilab. School governance is provided by a collaboration of DOE national laboratories and universities with active programs in accelerators. This organization helps ensure that the USPAS delivers broad and evolving training meeting the needs of the accelerator science and technology community.

The USPAS is organized as a three-way partnership: 1) the USPAS Director and Office at Fermilab perform and coordinate business and programmatic functions and activities of the School, 2) the USPAS Collaboration that provides both input on the governance of the School and in-kind support of USPAS programs by covering all costs of their staff and faculty who teach at USPAS sessions, and 3) the major research universities nationwide that comprise the pool from which the USPAS selects academic sponsors for our semi-annual programs to convey academic credit for our courses.

The USPAS Collaboration is comprised of seven national laboratories of the Office of Science of the Department of Energy, one national laboratory of the National Nuclear Security Agency of DOE, and two primarily National Science Foundation supported university laboratories. The USPAS Director acts as the Convener and Executive Officer of the Collaboration.

The Collaboration provides in-depth support to the USPAS Director through its representatives on the Director's Advisory Council. At the request of the DOE Office of Science, institutional representatives are selected by the Director of his/her respective member laboratory or NSF center. A sub-committee of the Director’s Advisory Council, the Curriculum Sub-Committee, provides detailed guidance to the USPAS Director on the curriculum of the School. The Curriculum Committee is chaired by a member of the Advisory Council and its members are appointed at the discretion of the USPAS Director.    

USPAS Collaboration
Argonne National Laboratory
Brookhaven National Laboratory
Cornell University
Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Michigan State University
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility