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Spot Awards Say 'Thanks' On-the-spot

(Image - Spot Award chip)
SLAC Spot Award chip.

A few months back, Controls Department Engineer Andrew Young was presented with a unique problem: essential klystron components called phase amplitude detector boards were breaking down, and no one knew how to fix them. The boards, which are found in every klystron in the linac, had been designed at SLAC 25 years ago, but scant documentation was available and the accelerator maintenance team was running out of spares.

Young, working with his colleagues John Fox, Dave Anderson, John Dustko and Clive O’Conner, studied the boards and created a service manual that would help klystron technicians troubleshoot problems. Within a couple of weeks, the number of spares went from zero to 10, avoiding the need to replace the boards and making technicians even more proficient in working with the klystrons.

To give Young's accomplishment a touch of added recognition, Electronics and Instrumentation Engineering head Ron Johnson gave him a Spot Award—a 10 dollar chip that can be exchanged for gift certificates to the Linear Café, Stanford Bookstore and Stanford Guesthouse gift shop.

"It's a very exciting thing to do when you can teach someone how to do something new," Young said. "And it's a nice thing to get an award saying you did a good job."

SLAC's Spot Award and Recognition Program is in full swing; as of early July, 78 awards had been given out since the program started May 1. The awards have recognized a variety of achievements: rectifying potentially dangerous situations, finding novel solutions to problems and for simply being an especially good colleague.

(Photo - Andrew Young and one of the boards)
Andrew Young holds one of a phase amplitude detector board. (Photo by Nicholas Bock.)

Human Resources Assistant Diversity Manager Vivian Lee received two chips for reaching out across departments to help evaluate SLAC's new employee orientation program. Collaborating with Training Specialist Charlotte Carlson, Lee developed a web-based feedback process and held forums with recently hired employees. She collected feedback on what the lab was doing well and what could be improved, and presented her findings to executive leadership.

Using Lee's findings, HR has been able to redesign the employee orientation program, making it more responsive to the expectations and needs of new employees.

"This is a great example of the type of behavior we want to acknowledge and reward," said Human Resources Director Larry Young. "Vivian took the initiative to do work on a project that was outside of her normal activities and did a great job doing it."

Particle Physics and Astrophysics Science and Engineering Principal Technicians David Kiehl and Tom Nieland both received Spot Awards for exceeding expectations in preparing accelerator components called couplers for an International Linear Collider prototype being built at Fermilab.

Kiehl and Nieland were in charge of receiving the components from a third party supplier then cleaning, assembling, baking, testing and finally sending the parts to Fermilab. According to their supervisor, Particle Physics and Astrophysics Engineer Jeff Tice, Kiehl and Nieland went beyond what was expected, impressing Fermilab with their timeliness and the high quality preparation of the couplers.

"What we're trying to do is send a professional component, and they met and exceeded that," Tice said.

—Nicholas Bock
SLAC Today, July 23, 2009