7 April 2008

Kirill Egorov

Nationality: Russian

Kirill Egorov

All members of the ATLAS collaboration have been working to a demanding schedule over the last few years as they prepare for the LHC turn-on, but few can claim to have been as busy as Kirill Egorov, affiliated with Indiana University. In the five years since he arrived at ATLAS from the Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute in Russia, Kirill has worked on the TRT Barrel, cabling, the connection of the TRT end-cap, the gas and cooling system, and the SCT. His next task is helping with the cooling system for the pixel detector.

“To stay here at CERN I have to have work,” says Kirill. “I’m willing to do anything!” He puts down his versatility to the training he received as an engineer at the Baltic State Technical University in St Petersburg, Russia. “Everyone had to learn to do everything,” Kirill says. “If you can make a drawing of a part, you should also know how to manufacture the part. That was the philosophy.”

Kirill’s training was in rocket design, but even so, he was impressed with what he found on his first trip to CERN. “What people are doing here is incredible,” he says. “Even a space rocket is much simpler to build than the ATLAS detector.”

Kirill and his family made the move from St Petersburg to France in 2002. “We live in St Genis,” he says. “In my opinion there’s a massive difference between France and Switzerland. Just 2 kilometres – it’s a different life.”

The move west was something Kirill had been hoping to do for some time. “We waited many years for the chance,” says Kirill. “In Russia, everything is wrong, except that our family and friends are there. But now, in five years, I’ve never gone back – I hope never to go back!”

But adapting to a new culture has taken time. Even learning to communicate was a challenge. “I began immediately by writing emails – it’s the main information channel,” Kirill says. French was easier to pick up than English, because of greater similarities with Russian. “If you take any online translator and put in a Russian phrase and translate it into English and back again, you’ll never understand it – it’s so funny!’ he says. “But if you do the same thing from Russian to French and back, it would be 90% the same – you keep the sense.”

Kirill’s English is improving all the time, although he maintains that American accents are easier to understand than British ones. “Now I can listen to CNN and I understand everything. But listening to the BBC? I don’t understand a thing!” That made working with a British team on the SCT last September even more of a challenge for Kirill.

In his spare time Kirill is a keen musician. “I have to play a minimum of one hour a day or I can’t sleep,” he says. “Usually people relax watching TV. I don’t like TV – I play instead.”

It was through playing music back in Russia the Kirill met his wife. He played “intelligent heavy metal” in a band. His wife was a musician in a rival band. “For any wife, a husband’s guitar is a problem,” he says. “Except for a wife who also played in a band!”

Kirill hopes to form a new band in Geneva, but finding the time from work is difficult. As soon as one task is completed, Kirill finds himself working on another. His busy schedule culminated with his work on the SCT last year. “We would sometimes work for up to 17 hours a day!” he says. “I’ll remember that always.”

Perhaps being busy is the price Kirill must pay for being a jack-of-all-trades. The turn-on of the detector later this year will herald the beginning of a new phase of work for members of the ATLAS Collaboration, but perhaps it will also give Kirill the chance to take a well-earned vacation.


    Colin Barras