Rob Mackintosh: Nurturing the Right Context

My name is Rob Mackintosh.  I’m in the San Diego Men’s Division.  I attended my first men’s team meeting in late 2007.  Did the Legacy Discovery in 2008 and the Sterling Men’s Weekend in 2015.  

What am I building?

My employer General Atomics is building two magnetic field chambers for Fermi National Labs for a scientific experiment called Mu2e.  I’m the senior engineer for this project.  I’m a mechanical engineer.  I graduated from New Mexico State back in 1989.  

The magnetic field chambers require super conducting wire in order to generate the magnetic fields required for the experiment.  The chambers are somewhat similar to MRI machines but are much larger. I lifted the image below from Googling images of Mu2e:

A complicated, techy picture of something.

We are building the Production Solenoid and the Detector Solenoid.  The magnetic fields are shown above in Tesla (4.6T = 4.6 Tesla).

How are you doing it?

Shortly after a contract was awarded to General Atomics I was assigned to the project to design what we call the vacuum chambers (also called cryostats). The cryostats are shown in green above. The magnetic field windings (also called solenoids) are in the annulus and are colored white and pink. We created all the drawings in San Diego and are building the units in Tupelo Mississippi. These days I write technical manuals with instructions on how to build and assemble the units. We are getting close to finishing the first of the two: the Production Solenoid. 

I fly to Mississippi quite often to interface with the crew down there.  We also rely very heavily on MS Teams (similar to Zoom) to convey information back and forth.  I look at a lot of pictures.  I do a lot of modeling in CAD to generate illustrations for instructions on how to get stuff done.  The images below instruct on the insertion of thermal shields into the cryostat of the Production Solenoid.   

Who is this impacting?

The Mu2e program and experiment is a further expansion of the study of high-energy particle physics – the study of the behavior of highly energized electrons (these are called Muons).  This experiment aims to prove or disprove that Muons are fundamentally highly charged electrons.  This study impacts only those interested in high energy particle physics and does not have an underlying agenda to improve or destroy the world.  I suppose that physicists would argue that having a better understanding of physical phenomenon improves humanity – but I think that is debatable.

What skills did you get from MDI that help you succeed in your career?

As we say in MDI: speak personally.  Yes! Absolutely! 

The most powerful tool that MDI offers is that of acquiring an understanding of the context that a man holds.  The understanding then opens the door to developing or nurturing the right context for the situation at hand (assuming that you are looking for success).  If you are not interested in success then feel free to fly into any situation unprepared and enjoy the results.  Don’t worry – I still enjoy my fair share of that priceless tradition.  

In my case I’m prone to some level of “highly functional” depression and anxiety.  This surfaces most often in the form of a shitty attitude with lots of bitching and complaining and other gems of being a victim.  I’ve been on the Mu2e program for eight years now and I’ve seen some pretty ugly and pathetic mistakes.  My immature side just chomps at the bit to talk shit about anyone who’s responsible for a mistake.  However, I know that reflects very poorly on me as an employee and especially as a leader.  My boss is a very upbeat guy and seems to be able to keep his head above the water when it comes to witch hunting.  So it behooves me to pull my head out of my ass and put on a powerful context before interacting with my boss. 

And, in any case, I feel much better after having interacted with a powerful context versus a whinny victim context.  A powerful context that I’m able to bring to the table is: confident expert with a can-do attitude.  

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