Andy Carpe

Bio/Description

Engineering Associate

“I can honestly say I never wake up in the morning and feel like I don’t want to go to work. I love my job, I love this place and I believe in our mission.”

I am the Lab: Andy Carpe

PPPL’s approximately 600 employees support the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s primary scientific mission to develop the scientific understanding of plasmas and to develop the knowledge and engineering to enable fusion energy to power the U.S. and the world. Each month we will profile one of our employees at our U.S. Department of Energy national laboratory who exemplifies the wide variety of backgrounds, talents, and interests of our staff.

I am the Lab: Andy Carpe brings skilled technical skills to his many roles as technician, inventor, and supervisor of PPPL’s apprentices

Quote: “I can honestly say I never wake up in the morning and feel like I don’t want to go to work. I love my job, I love this place and I believe in our mission.”

Name: Andy Carpe

Year started at PPPL: 1991

Position: Engineering associate

Andy Carpe is a skilled technician and inventor who has easily moved to wherever he is needed at PPPL in his many years on the job, working on numerous experiments and inventions and most recently managing PPPL’s four-year apprenticeship program, which began in 2019, and provides early-career technicians a chance to learn high-tech skills on the job while they take technical classes.

Carpe was the inventor with engineer Charles Gentile and Ken Silber of the MINDS device to detect nuclear materials and has contributed to numerous other experiments and inventions. These include working on a  flowing liquid lithium limiter for the Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) with physicist Rajesh Maingi, a device that circulates the liquid metal to improve plasma performance. He also worked with physicist Rob Goldston on a robot that can detect nuclear materials.

Carpe grew up in Howell, New Jersey, and attended Lincoln Technical Institute. He began his career as a union mechanic for several different companies until coming to PPPL.  He began working at PPPL doing heating, ventilation and air conditioning for the Facilities Department but then moved to the group responsible for overseeing the tritium fuel for the massive Tokamak Fusion Test Reactor (TFTR). He cross-trained to help with the disassembly and decommissioning of TFTR, donning a protective bubble suit to enter the TFTR vacuum vessel three times. Now, nearly 30 years later Carpe is involved with the removal of legacy tritium systems from TFTR.

Carpe and his wife, Margaret Carpe, who also works at PPPL in the warehouse, commuted from their home in Neptune City every day until most on-site work was curtailed in March 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They have five children: Brendan, 23, Dylan 24, Andrea, 32, Bryan, 34, and Justin, 36, and seven grandchildren ranging from a 2-year-old to an 11-year-od.

How do you feel about your job?

“Coming over and having an opportunity to work directly with physicists on small projects, working directly with engineers, I’ve learned a lot. I don’t look at this place as a 9-to-5 job because I find all the work we do stimulating.”

Three things about yourself:

1. “I have been organizing fishing trips since 2001…It’s a great way to get everybody together from the entire laboratory, from custodians to physicists. “

2. “I like to cook…I’ll make all kinds of ethnic dishes: Indian stuff, Thai, southern, Jamaican oxtail stew, West African dishes, and barbecue. I love that barbecue.

3. I’m an avid New York Giants fan and I’m a. huge high school and NCAA wrestling fan. That’s probably my favorite sport.

What does working at PPPL mean to you?

“This place is amazing. I tell the apprentices this all the time. This is an incredible place and I can honestly say I never wake up in the morning and feel like I don’t want to go to work. I love my job, I love this place, and I believe in our mission.”