From Designing to Reprogramming: Intern Steven Snell Spends His Summer at AGS and RHIC

Steven Snell enlarge

Intern Steven Snell at the AGS, where he is helping reprogram the cooling system that supports experiments at RHIC.

Steven Snell only started as an intern at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory in June, but he quickly earned the reputation as a “cool” guy by helping review, reprogram, and rewire the Radio Frequency Power Amplifier (RFPA) cooling system for the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron (AGS). The AGS injects heavy ion/proton beams into the Lab’s Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) which collides them together so scientists can explore the building blocks of matter and how the universe works.  The upgraded RFPA cooling system will increase the system’s efficiency helping to reduce the power cost for RHIC operations. 

This internship has exceeded my expectations and pointed me toward a career I know I will enjoy

— Steven Snell

Joseph Tuozzolo, principal mechanical engineer in the Lab’s Collider-Accelerator Division (C-AD), and Snell have also been working on the design for a new beam tube sleeve that will be installed within the RHIC cryogenic magnets.  The copper plated sleeve will allow the higher beam currents in the proposed Electron-Ion Collider without significantly increasing the heat load to the cryogenic system.  Snell has helped evaluate the temperature profile, the design geometry, and the flexure calculation to install the sleeve in the slight curved RHIC dipoles. 

“He is quite a talented mathematician and is becoming proficient in using AutoCAD design software,” said Tuozzolo. “He is very engaged in the work.”

“I am having the best summer ever working here at the Lab,” said Snell. “I am learning so much about how systems are designed and installed, and how each subsystem plays a critical role toward making the grand experiments like those at RHIC possible.”

Snell was originally offered an internship at a university in California this summer, but decided Brookhaven was the place he wanted to be. “I did the STEM Prep program here when I was in high school and I knew then the Lab was an amazing place.”

“I’m impressed with Steven’s talent and dedication,” noted Vogt, a senior technical supervisor in C-AD. “He isn’t just smart, he is enthusiastic and hard-working. He has become an integral part of our team and we will miss him when his summer internship ends. I am sure he will have a successful future.”

Steven Snell, J.T. Benante, and Joseph Tuozzolo enlarge

Joseph Tuozzolo (left) and J.T. Benante (right), provide guidance to intern Steven Snell, who is checking the status of a pump that is part of the cooling system at the AGS.

Snell said he is extremely grateful for his mentors and for J.T. Benante, a technical specialist in CA-D, who is providing him with hands-on experience and guiding him through the processes of upgrading and maintaining cooling systems throughout the RHIC complex.

“This internship has exceeded my expectations and pointed me toward a career I know I will enjoy,” said Snell. “I love to build anything and everything. My dream would be to work for NASA designing and building rockets.”

When Snell isn’t busy doing calculations or building things, he relaxes by playing guitar. “I love all music, but I taught myself how to play guitar and it is now my favorite pastime,” he said.

Snell, who graduated from Center Moriches High School, received his associate degree in engineering science from Suffolk County Community College in 2019. Beginning this fall, he will pursue his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at Cornell University.

Brookhaven National Laboratory is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. The Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

Follow @BrookhavenLab on Twitter or find us on Facebook.

2019-16698  |  INT/EXT  |  Newsroom