IIT: From a Million-Dollar Wish to Invaluable Reality
by Mike Perricone
What would you do with a million dollars?
Frank Gunsaulus, minister of the Plymouth Church on 31st and State Streets in Chicago, put his million-dollar wish list into words in a sermon in 1890. He found that the right words, at the right time and place, can change the future.
Gunsaulus envisioned building a school open to anyone wishing a technical education, in an America facing a new century exploding with technology. Church member Philip D. Armour, of the Chicago meat-packing and grain-trading family, took Gunsaulus at his word. He pledged the necessary funds, and founded the Armour Institute with Gunsaulus as its first president.
The Armour Institute opened in 1893, already boasting a backlog of applicants. More than a century of evolution has brought mergers and partnerships with the Art Institute of Chicago, the Lewis Institute of Humanities, the Institute of Design and the Chicago-Kent College of Law—the latter establishing one of the nation’s few technological universities with its own law school.
The modern Illinois Institute of Technology, renamed in 1940, has an enrollment of more than 6,000 students representing 89 countries, distributed among five campuses in the city and suburbs. It recently received a $1 million grant from the Whitaker Foundation to create an undergraduate degree program in biomedical engineering. The university and its contract research affiliate, IIT Research Institute, have $130 million in annual research volume. IIT has a long history of involvement in improvements for Chicago’s south side, and was an original member of both the South Side Partnership and the South Side Planning Board, whose accomplishments include the McCormick Center on Chicago’s lakefront.
Congressman Bobby L. Rush, of the 1st District in Illinois, expressed high regard for IIT and its longstanding research contribution to Fermilab.
“Throughout a distinguished history spanning more than a century, IIT has represented the highest ideals in education and research,” said Rep. Rush, who serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “It has also demonstrated a firm and continuing commitment to the city and community. The bond between IIT and Fermilab surely guarantees a bright future for both.”
A longstanding contributor to Fermilab research, IIT further strengthened the bond on January 30 by becoming a full member of Universities Research Association, Inc., the consortium of 90 universities which operates the lab under contract with the U.S. Department of Energy.
“We are delighted to join with the other members of URA in support of these extraordinary research facilities that are so important to this nation’s future,” said IIT president Lew Collens.
IIT’s support has often come from a leadership position. In addition to creating its own Center for Accelerator and Particle Physics, IIT was the founding member through CAPP of the Illinois Consortium for Accelerator Research, initially funded in 2000 by the State of Illinois to advance future site-specific Fermilab projects. To Fermilab Director Michael Witherell, IIT’s official membership in URA comes at a critical time for the future of accelerator physics—and physicists.
“We need to renew the close connection between accelerator physics and university physics departments,” Witherell said. “The supply of accelerator physicists is not able to keep up with the growing demand, and we need to train many more. IIT is one of the universities that has responded to this need and is committing itself to an accelerator physics program. I think this is a great move for IIT and we are working with them to make it a success for them and for us.”
Dan Kaplan, director of CAPP and principal investigator of ICAR, emphasized IIT’s history of experimental high-energy physics established by Ray Burnstein and Howard Rubin in the 1960s, with bubble-chamber physics at Brookhaven, Argonne and later, Fermilab. The two collaborated with Fermilab’s Jeff Appel on E791 which achieved a breakthrough with 250,000 charm decays. After Leon Lederman joined IIT in 1992-93, Kaplan switched from Northern Illinois University. Kaplan had been a grad student on the Fermilab experiment, led by Lederman, that discovered the bottom quark in 1977.
“The four of us agreed that we would join forces to form a single strong group,” Kaplan said, “initially to work on the new HyperCP experiment.”
And so they got to work. At Fermilab, CAPP physicists now participate in the HyperCP, BTeV and MINOS experiments, and in the MuCool project. HyperCP (E871) is searching for CP violation in Lambda and Xi hyperon decays, as well as in charged kaon decays. All are important tests for the Standard Model of elementary particles and forces. CP violation is the asymmetry between matter and antimatter, the apparent reason that the universe exists as matter with virtually no antimatter. HyperCP has accumulated the world’s largest sample of decays of hyperons, which include one or more strange quarks in their three-quark makeup. The second run of HyperCP took place in 1999, and data analysis is now in progress.
BTeV will also search for CP Violation in the “b system,” hadrons containing bottom quarks. With the Main Injector in operation, the Tevatron will produce more than 400 billion b-flavored hadrons per year and 10 times as many c-flavored hadrons (containing charm quarks) per year.
“BTeV is well positioned to answer the most crucial questions in heavy flavor physics,” Kaplan said.
MINOS is the long-baseline neutrino experiment designed to detect neutrino oscillations. It uses two detectors 400 miles apart: one at Fermilab, and the other at the Soudan Underground Mine State Park in Soudan, Minnesota. IIT’s Chris White is the Level 3 Manager for MINOS Near Detector Plane Assembly, responsible for coordinating physicists’ efforts on the assembly and checkout in the New Muon Lab.
MuCool, a major ICAR effort, centers on developing techniques for cooling muon beams, critical to the operation of a future accelerator that would collide oppositely-charged muons. Heavier cousins of electrons, muons are produced in a range of energies and angles. The process of cooling reduces the spread of energy and angles, focusing the muons to make them useful as colliding beams. Muon beams are also an effective means of producing neutrinos, and a muon accelerator could serve as a “neutrino factory.” Project Manager Engineer Edgar Black explained that IIT is leading the design of the cooling channel hardware in MuCool.
“This effort requires assembling all the components of the channel contained and supported by cryogenic and vacuum vessels,” Black continued. “The vessels are designed for fit and maintenance in small quarters, like in a tunnel. We are also trying new methods of photogrammetry, where we can measure the displacement of a pressure-stressed window without physically touching its delicate surface.”
ICAR grew from the concept of of the muon accelerator as neutrino factory, proposed by Fermilab’s Steve Geer. IIT Physics Department head Tim Morrison suggested to Kaplan that a consortium for research at Fermilab could be an attractive proposition for a state grant aimed at insuring the lab’s long-term future. The group drafted a white paper in 1998, and Gov. George Ryan announced a $600,000 planning grant at the 1999 dedication ceremonies of the Main Injector; the funds arrived about a year later.
Also in 2000, ICAR received a $2.5 million grant from the Higher Education Consortium Agreement of the Illinois Board of Higher Education. And ICAR member Northern Illinois University received federal funds to establish the Northern Illinois Center for Accelerator and Detector Development. ICAR also has also mounted a substantial effort in Linear Collider research and development, especially important in light of the High-Energy Physics Advisory Panel recommendation of a Linear Collider as the next major machine.
“ICAR is really unique,” Kaplan said. “I especially want to recognize the inspiration provided by Fermilab’s Allen Tollestrup, whose vision has always encompassed the collaboration of high-energy particle physicists and accelerator physicists to help set the direction of the future.”
True to its origins, IIT will have a large say in forming the vision of the high-energy physics future.
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