Berkeley Lab was built on the idea that solving problems requires teamwork. This concept works for research and for operations. The Scientific Equipment Installation (SEI) team uses teamwork to help researchers assess and work through the sometimes complex infrastructure requirements needed to install new scientific equipment.

SEI is a partnership between two divisions: Projects & Infrastructure Modernization and Facilities. The team is co-lead by Facilities Program Manager Matthew Vieira and PIM Project Director Jenny Ledesma, and includes a mechanical engineer, electrical engineer, and facilities mechanical and electrical planners.

SEI tackles projects from the simple, which can be managed through in-house crafts and Facilities work orders, to infrastructure-heavy projects requiring demolition, new electrical power, process piping, and ventilation modifications. The team’s delivery approach depends on the complexity of the project and the availability and capability of the Lab’s in-house craft workers.

“We work as an integrated team from the initial intake,” says Jenny Ledesma. “We evaluate the space’s current conditions against the instrument’s specifications, determine what work needs to be accomplished, and strategize on the best delivery approach. As a team we communicate with each other regularly, including through weekly coordination meetings, to make sure we keep each other on task, share lessons learned, and celebrate successes along the way!”

An example of the SEI team approach is the installation of a new waterjet for the Cyclotron Road program. The team first had to install new utilities in the designated space to support the future equipment arrival. During a second phase they seismically secured the waterjet to meet prevailing code. The team worked very closely with Cyclotron Road Lab Operations and Safety Lead Katy Rose de Leon, the Structural Engineering team, and Lab carpenters to develop a seismic strategy that met code, while also providing the Lab with a means to update and change the footprint without initiating rework.

Each phase required direct coordination and communication with the research team. “This project really exemplifies how SEI partners with science to deliver a product that not only meets technical and specific requirements but also intent and vision for the strategic use of space.” said Matt Vieira.

“The waterjet adds value to the Cyclotron Road program because it allows our fellows to conduct rapid prototyping.” said Katy Rose de Leon. “We needed the SEI team to install the equipment so it could be moved around, which allows for a more modular feel to our lab and ultimately supports the varied work of our fellows.”

The focused team approach provides many benefits to researchers who need complex equipment to support their work. SEI is currently working on the installation of a hydrogen generator for the Energy Storage & Distributed Resources Division, which is needed to help with research on electrochemical-based energy-conversion materials and assemblies.

Douglas Kushner, a materials project scientist with the division, found the focused approach helped as the project moves towards completion. “The SEI team is a more focused group and the installation process has been a pretty good experience,” he said, “Our group had been trying for over two years to get this equipment put in. The benefit of the SEI team approach is it is a more intimate team who works closely together and who are very communicative.”

Since its inception in late 2022, the team has completed 15 installation projects, including 6 this year. The team is currently managing execution of 17 projects and scoping an additional seven. SEI projects include projects that can be executed entirely by the Facilities Division, those delivered jointly by PIM and Facilities in a hybrid fashion, and PIMD-managed projects. The size of the projects typically range from $50K multi-craft Facilities installations to $2M projects that involve subcontracted design and construction.

Katy Rose de Leon summed it up, “If you have an installation that requires time and attention, loop in the SEI team. You can be confident it will get done.”

Learn more: Scientific Equipment Installation Team


  • John Clark says:

    Nice going, team. Supporting science is what it’s all about.

  • Robin Mitchell says:

    Agreed — thanks for all your work supporting the lab’s research !!

  • Joshua Ballesteros says:

    Well done, SEI team! I’m excited for the future of your program. SEI goes beyond any project team and embodies a true partnership approach. Not only are they meticulous in their processes, but they also excel in their interpersonal approach, fostering collaboration and mutual understanding every step of the way.
    Thank you!