Director's Corner

23 March 2006

Barry Barish
Integrating the Parts

At the GDE meeting in Frascati last December, we approved the ILC Baseline and announced a new organizational structure for developing a Reference Design and Cost. In my short talk during the closeout discussion session, I reflected on what I considered some important remaining problems that would not be addressed by the new organizational structure. On that list of problems, the first problem I identified was our lack of "systems integration." I felt this was a crucial missing element and, since that time, I have been striving to find a way to create such a function within our GDE RDR effort. Today, I am very happy to announce the appointment of Ewan Paterson (SLAC) as our GDE "Integration Scientist." I am confident that Ewan will plug this gaping hole.

Ewan Paterson
Ewan Paterson

What do I mean by an integration scientist or by systems integration? Interestingly, different people have different definitions of this function and that is a reflection of the fact that systems integration can be very different for different projects, or even at different stages of a given project. Classically, for a complex construction project, this function is usually filled by a systems engineer. The task normally involves using an interdisciplinary approach to engineering systems that are inherently complex, because the behavior of and interaction among system components are not always well defined or understood -- at least at the outset. Defining and characterizing such systems and subsystems, and the interactions among them, is the primary aim of systems engineering.

Although our tasks are not so dominantly engineering based, the function we need is much the same. In our case, however, we require understanding the subtleties of making complex technical and accelerator systems work together effectively in order to create an operating accelerator. For us, this requires a deep familiarity with accelerators and how they work, hence the title of integration scientist rather than system engineer.

One might ask why do we need such a function so early for the ILC? Clearly, systems integration will become more and more important as we evolve into a construction project. If we are to do accurate and reliable costing, we must be confident that we understand all the interfaces between subsystems of the ILC and that we capture all the elements required to bring our subsystems together into a working accelerator.

We are fortunate that Ewan Paterson is especially well qualified to undertake this task. He has been involved in accelerator physics, large accelerators and project management, in many different guises, ever since he received his PhD in accelerator physics in 1962 from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. In a sense, Ewan has "seen it all." In his new role, he will participate in our top level RDR management meetings, and I plan to work with him to help define his role. I am confident that, as a result of Ewan’s contributions, we will be able to present a well "integrated" project in our RDR.