Morgan Styer

“I love that we’re working toward sustainable fusion that could become the energy source of the future. That, and our talented co-workers, are  what keeps bringing me back to work day after day."

— Morgan Styer

Title & Department: Tech Shop Supervisor and Welding Engineer, Engineering 

Year started at PPPL: 2012

Originally published in June 2023


A lifetime tinkerer finds a career at PPPL as a welding engineer and tech shop supervisor

Morgan Styer is a tech shop supervisor and welding engineer who has been a “tinkerer” all her life. She has enjoyed repairing and building things since childhood, whether it was bicycles, cars or home repairs. At PPPL, where she has worked for the past decade, Styer has found a career in which each day is a little different. 

“Honestly, it’s the variety of projects that I really appreciate,” Styer said. “I like having a wide range of things to work on and that’s been really good for me. While there are days that it’s been challenging  wearing my supervisor and welding engineer hats, having that medley is invigorating.”

Leader of PPPL Pride Employee Resource Group

Styer is also the leader of a new employee resource group for lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender staff members and their allies. Styer said she hopes the PPPL Pride Employee Resource Group will “be a safe place where people can feel free to discuss issues that are specific to the LGBTQ+ community and potentially make suggestions on how the Lab can do even better” in this space. Among other things, she hopes the group will partner with the LGBTQ+ employee resource group at Princeton University and get involved with similar organizations within the DOE complex and around the Princeton area. 

Styer was born in Pennsylvania, but spent much of her childhood in a small town in Western New York about an hour south of Buffalo. Styer said she was “obsessed” with bicycles when she was young and originally became a welding engineer in order to become involved in their manufacturing. However, her career took a different turn when the high-end bicycle industry veered from steel and aluminum to carbon fiber frames. 

She graduated from the Pennsylvania College of Technology in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a bachelor of science degree in welding and fabrication engineering technology. After graduation, she worked for several Pennsylvania companies including Schindler Elevator Corp. in Gettysburg, and BAE Systems in York, building military vehicles. She went on to work at GEA Refrigeration North America in York and then was a contractor for GE Transportation in Erie.

Started at PPPL as welding engineer

She recalls being excited when she saw the ad for a welding engineer at PPPL. “It sounded really intriguing,” she said. “My experience with vacuum applications and stainless steel welding was limited at that time, but I had a really good knowledge base that I was able to build upon and was able to grow into the role quickly.” 

Styer was promoted to a supervisor in 2020 and now oversees 10 technicians in the welding shop and the carpentry shop, and several mechanical  technicians. 

Styer lives in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania. She has two children: Alicia, 26, and Ethan, who is turning 18 in July and recently graduated from high school.

Describe your job: 

“Our machinists will take a block of metal, and they’ll turn it into a finished shape with very precise dimensions; and then the welders will turn those parts into a larger assembly. 

Welding gives you the ability to join metals together in a bond that is typically equal to or greater than the strength of the base materials. Welding allows us to make much larger assemblies than what you could machine from a single piece of raw material. We can also create joints that are effective vacuum seals, supporting our various vacuum vessels and piping systems. A lot of our work is supporting the National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade (NSTX-U), PPPL’s main experiment, but we also support PPPL’s Facility for Laboratory Reconnection Experiment (FLARE), the Lithium Tokamak Experiment-Beta (LTX-Beta) at PPPL; and the Japan Torus-60 ( JT-60) in Japan. We’ve built things for the Wendelstein 7-X (W7-X) stellarator in Germany and before that the Joint European Torus (JET) in the United Kingdom. We’re supporting all of PPPL’s collaborative efforts around the world."

Three things about yourself: 

  1. “I love woodworking. About two and a half years ago, I decided to convert a Mercedes sprinter van into an RV. I learned how to build cabinets to support that project. I’d love to get into furniture making at some point.”
  2. “I am currently on three different softball teams: a coed team that plays Tuesday nights and a women’s team that plays on Sundays, and PPPL’s own Tokabats team.”
  3. “I love to travel and have been to all 50 U.S. states as well as a half dozen foreign countries.”

What do you like about working at PPPL? 

“I believe in the mission. I love that we’re working toward sustainable fusion that could become the energy source of the future. That, and our talented co-workers, are what keep bringing me back to work day after day. The benefits package that comes with being a Princeton University employee doesn’t hurt either.”