TRAC Interns: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

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Q: I don't have medical insurance. What do I do?

You must have medical insurance in order to participate in any of the internship programs at Fermilab. The Fermilab Users Office has more information on obtaining short-term medical insurance

Q: What is my Fermilab ID number?

You will receive this number when you arrive at Fermilab.

Q: How many hours am I expected to work per week? Do I decide my schedule or is that up to our mentor?

We are fairly flexible with your work hours and schedule. Technically you will be an "At-Will" worker which means you do not actually have strict hours/schedules. As long as your mentor is okay with it, you can set your own schedule. For example, within a reasonable range, you can set your own start and end time for the day. As another example, if you need to take 2 hours off on a Friday, you could either make it up on the other days of the week or maybe not even make it up. You get paid for the hours you work. The only restriction is that you cannot work more than 40 hours in any one week. In the past some teachers have taken a week off in the middle of their stay for a planned family vacation or teacher training with their school district.

Although we try to be pretty reasonable about your schedule, in order to make the experience as worthwhile as possible for both you and your mentor, we do expect you to work at Fermilab for 8 weeks, (usually 40 hours per week). Our experience is that if you spend significantly less time than that at Fermilab, the experience begins to become less useful.

Q: Are there other expectations I would need to fulfill regarding hours and involvement?

We will put you in contact with your mentor so the two of you can discuss before you start what your project will involve depending on what your mentor wants to do, and your goals, interests, and skills and experience. Depending on your work you may need to do some additional safety training besides what is covered during your first day. As well as working on your project you will attend a weekly TRAC program meeting. The TRAC meeting is intended to inject more of a "teacher component" into the program. We will get a tour of the Teacher Resource Center in the onsite Lederman Science Center, and we will hear from some teachers that take part in the National QuarkNet and the Master Class Programs that have links to Fermilab. We will also have Q&A sessions with scientists on specific physics topics. Depending on your mentor and work schedule, you will be encouraged to go to the Summer Lecture Series, the weekly colloquium, and the scheduled tours of the site's facilities and experiments.

Near the end of your stay at Fermilab you will give a presentation on your work at Fermilab, create a brief bio and work description for your Fermilab TRAC web page, and fill out a feedback survey. If you opt for getting graduate student credit there are some other assignments you need to turn in.

Q: Can I get graduate student credit by participating in TRAC?

TRAC participants may register for graduate credit course hours.

Institution: Aurora University (Aurora, Illinois)
Course Number and Title: NSM 5408 - TRAC Teacher Research Program
Credit Hours: 4.5 graduate credit hours
Instructor of Record: Tom Jordan
Graduate Credit Fee: $450 ($100/hr. x 4.5 hrs. = $450)

Registration forms and fee are collected before 8 June. Participants may pick up a course registration form from LaMargo Gill ( at Fermilab's Wilson Hall high-rise building (15th Floor West, Education Office #1564), or contact her to mail the forms to you. Participants may contact Gill or Jordan for more details.

Q: Besides learning about particle physics and research through my project, my goals for the summer also include improving my classroom curriculum. Will I have time to work on some educational materials?

You will typically be kept busy with your project during the summer, but your mentor will expect that you will attend the weekly TRAC meetings, the summer lecture series, and the scheduled Fermilab tours. You will usually have time, particularly at the beginning of your project to research the experiment or project you will be a part of, and find out about the science. In the past teachers have found that by experiencing the work and the environment, meeting scientists, hearing lectures and reading Fermilab Today, they can get a good sense of how to steer an interested child towards the subject. The TRAC program is not designed or setup to provide a structured way to directly translate your experiences to the classroom. We believe you as the teacher are the best person to do that. We provide you with a real research experience, and with other "raw resources" available at Fermilab and we hope that a motivated intern will direct their own experiences to get what they would like from the program. The weekly TRAC meeting is one way we try to inject more of a teacher component into the TRAC program; we try to provide a forum where you can learn about the educational programs and resources available at Fermilab, and to discuss with other like-minded educators how your experiences can be related back to the classroom.

Q: Is there a meeting or orientation before I start at Fermilab so I can get a better idea of the program and my project, and the basics about Fermilab? If not, where can I find some basic information about the program and my project?

There is a TRAC welcome web site located at the following URL:

By clicking on the menu on the left bar, you can get information on what to expect at Fermilab, what to bring with you on your first day, your schedule for your first day, and about the weekly activities. To get a better idea of your project and what your day-to-day activities would be like we will put you in contact with your mentor. Your mentor can discuss with you what your project entails, what you can do to prepare for your project before you come (if you have time!), what your goals are for your summer, and what your day-to-day activities will likely be. If you have any questions you can always email the TRAC program contacts.

Q: Will I be able to use my own laptop while at Fermilab? Do I need to bring a laptop with me to Fermilab? What else should I bring?

For work on your project you should not need to bring anything with you to Fermilab as we will provide anything you need to do work on your project. You will need to fill in a timecard online, but there are public-accessible computers in the Email Center in the main building that you can use for this purpose. Some jobs will require you to use Fermilab's computing resources and your mentor will help you with getting the right user accounts. You can bring your own laptop onsite. There is a guest WIFI network but if you want to access the non-guest Fermilab network you will need to register your laptop and it will be remotely port-scanned before access will be granted. Depending on your specific work and your mentor, you may be able to use your own laptop for your work, but you may not have the right software to make this possible. You may also want to use your own laptop if you plan on working on your own educational materials.

Q: I'm from out-of-state so I will be packing for 8 weeks. Can you tell me what would be helpful to pack? For example, I want to know if what I normally like to wear are allowed and/or appropriate?

Dress at Fermilab is very informal/casual. There are no requirements except for safety reasons based on your work area and work activities. For work in an office-type environment like computing, what people wear in the summer can range from simply a short-sleeved shirt/blouse and jeans/skirt, to business casual; some even wear just a T-shirt, shorts, and sandals. For some work environments open-toe shoes are not allowed. You are encouraged to ask your mentor if there are any requirements for the area where you will be working.

Q: I'm coming in from Chicago, is there a way I can use public transport to get to Fermilab?

Pace's Call-n-Ride bus service has expanded to Fermilab and Geneva's Metra station on the Union Pacific West line. You can get more information at the following URL:

Fermilab has a taxi/shuttle service that you can use during work hours to get around the Fermilab site.