Tiziano Belotti: My exchange program at ORNL, NCSA and NERSC

CSCS strongly support training and continuing education activities, which are undertaken in conjunction with work or which help enhance employability. CSCS for example encourage exchange programs with some partner institutions around the world. Tiziano Belotti, head of Facility Management at CSCS, participated to one of these exchange programs in summer 2014 and spent several weeks in the USA.

"If I had to choose the best word to describe my experience in the USA, it would have to be "great". Thanks to CSCS I have had the possibility to grow, first as a "human being" and second as a technical professional. Before starting work at ORNL I took some vacation with my family. We visited Niagara Falls, Toronto, Montreal, Boston, NY, and then returned to Washington.

ORNL - Tennessee

At the time of my visit, ORNL was in the process of building a new computer room, so I was able to check the installation plans and recommend some changes. They were particularly interested in our “cooling islands” and our lake-water cooling, so I had the opportunity to give several presentations on these topics; they are considering using lake water from the Norris Dam for cooling in the future. We also discussed other facility management topics such as a ball bearing issue on our pumps and how to save energy. I suggested the installation of a heat pump to reuse IT waste heat to produce heat in summer for dehumidification – today this is produced with a big 20 MW steam plant.

During my free time I visited the Smokey Mountains, Nashville (nice live bluegrass music with banjo), Norris, Clinton, Pigeon Forge, etc.

ORNL Center.
Wild turkey on the ORNL parking.
Bluegrass music let's go!

NCSA - Illinois

At NCSA I had the possibility to visit the brand new supercomputing center and the very large cooling & heating plant able to provide energy for all the campus (53’000 people). I had the possibility to learn the USA’s construction standards and I gave a presentation of our cooling system. I spent the weekend visiting Chicago where there is the beautiful Millennium Park and Museum of Art (big beans). The NASCAR race was amazing too!

Chiacago Millennium Park, Big Bean.
Nascar race.

NERSC - San Francisco

One month in California is not enough to visit this beautiful State! I think that my work at NERSC was useful because I had the possibility to discuss several facility management topics. They were very interested in hearing about how we managed our move to the new building in 2012. We gained a lot of experience and so I was able to share this with them. I visited the new center and was able to look at the diagrams for the center’s electrical and cooling plant. We exchanged about possible fine tunings and important points to look out for during the construction. I also had the possibility to give a presentation about the Swiss construction standards Minergie and CECE to the people from the Energy Technologies Group at UC Berkley.

During the weekends I visited a lot of beautiful places: Yosemite Park, Sequoia Park, amongst others. I also went on a road trip from San Francisco to Tahoe Lake and Reno Nevada and the very typically old wester town of Body. Amazing! They already had electricity in each house and there was a steam production for the gold mine (1860). From Body I continued to Karson City and Las Vegas. During my trip I had the chance to do different activities: I went to the church to listen to American choirs as I also sing in one here in Switzerland, watch a NHL game, taste some wine in a vineyard that’s managed by a Swiss-Italian who emigrated there 50 years ago, and with the Swiss cultural group I visited the De Yong Museum, a building designed by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. In the last week of my trip I flew to Arizona for four days: a state so beautiful it takes your breath away!

San Francisco.
Cooling pipeline installation at NERSC.
Sequoia Park "General Sherman", the Big one!
Historical ghost town of Body.
Robert Mondavi winery in Napa Valley.

I’ll return to the States with my family because my experience was amazing and I want to share with them the USA landscape! The work experience has been very rewarding and thanks to my knowledge I was able to contribute to a variety of discussions. I also gained an even stronger appreciation for the professional quality of the CSCS Facility Management team and the fact that we are lucky enough to work for an institution that allows facility managers to get exposure to international experiences. Moreover, this experience gave me the opportunity to learn a lot of new skills and to improve also my English.

I would like to thank CSCS and the partner institutions for the great opportunity!" - by Tiziano Belotti, CSCS.

Grand Canyon in Arizona.