Rich Northrop

Research Engineer

Rich has been designing hardware for high energy physics and astrophysics for 42 years. His primary mechanical engineering tool is Autodesk Inventor which has embedded analysis capability. Rich has been involved with 5 balloon payloads (TRACER, THISTLE, RICH, CREAM, and CREST) and was the lead mechanical engineer on the last three of those. Recently he was a member of the CTA camera design team and the LAPPD detector development group. Machine design, structural engineering, and electronics packaging are areas of expertise. Rich graduated from Penn State University in 1972 before working at John Mohr and Sons designing steel refining equipment.

Zack Siegel

Research Engineer

A mechanical engineer by training, Zack joined the University of Chicago from LifeFuels, a consumer electronics startup in Northern Virginia. There he led and supported a variety of efforts including the mechanical design of components, subsystems, and circuit boards, hands-on prototype fabrication, plastic injection molding, and the development of automated electromechanical test fixtures. While studying at Georgia Tech he worked as a research assistant in both the Intelligent Machine Dynamics Lab and the Aerospace Systems Design Lab, and subsequently co-founded a medical robotics company through Georgia Tech’s startup accelerator. He graduated with a B.S. in mechanical engineering in 2015. 

John Brandt

Research Engineer

John has been involved with design engineering and project management for large and small-scale projects spanning multiple disciplines for nearly 10 years.  Before joining the University of Chicago, he was a Mechanical Engineer at the Laboratory for Accelerator-Based Sciences and Education at Cornell University, a Project Engineer with Kirkham Michael Engineering Consulting Services, and a Rendering Assistant for the Diocles Extreme Light Laser Laboratory.  Proficient in the use of Autodesk Inventor, Solidworks, AutoCAD, and ANSYS, his areas of expertise include: mechanical and precision design; finite element analysis for mechanical, thermal, and fluid systems; particle accelerator and laser system hardware; x-ray beamline and optical instrumentation; additive manufacturing and materials; and project management.  John received his B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln in 2013.

Marc Berthoud

Research Engineer

Marc has extensive experience in developing, testing, and commissioning scientific instrumentation. He has written the data reduction pipeline for the High-resolution Airborne Wideband Camera (HAWC) for NASA’s SOFIA telescope. He also built the electronics for the HAWC opto-mechanical and housekeeping systems, and continues to support scientists in HAWC observations and data analysis. As the software developer for the Stone Edge Observatory, Marc has taught astronomical instrumentation for several courses. He was the manager of the Fab Lab at Yerkes Observatory and mentored dozens of high school and undergraduate students in STEM projects. At Northwestern, Marc is responsible for building the electronics and developing the control software for the half-wave plate rotator for the Large Millimeter Telescope. Marc is an experienced programmer using Python, C, LabVIEW and Java for instrument control, data acquisition, and reduction. He has worked with microcontrollers, built electronics and optical systems, and worked with compressed air and cryogenic systems. A licensed drone pilot, Marc provides airborne imaging and surveys. Before joining the University of Chicago in 2007, Marc earned a PhD in astronomical instrumentation from Cornell University and a Diploma in Physics from the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, Switzerland.

Ben Stillwell

Research Engineer Manager

Ben has been designing and building scientific apparatus for over twenty years. Prior to joining The University of Chicago in 2017, he was a mechanical engineer at the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory. Before that, he was at Los Alamos National Laboratory, providing hands-on technical support for experimentation on explosive devices. Areas of expertise include mechanical design, mechanical and thermal engineering analysis, particle accelerator hardware, x-ray beamlines, vacuum systems, and small project management. He is proficient in the use of Autodesk Inventor, AutoCAD, SolidWorks, Creo (Pro/E), and ANSYS Workbench. Ben received his B.S. Physics from the University of Florida in 1997 and M.S. Applied Physics from Northern Illinois University in 2007.