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Davis will focus on assembly and installation of LUX-ZEPLIN
Constance Walter

This year, alone, Jacob Davis took 109 trips, that sometimes kept him away from home for five days at a time. That’s a lot of time to be away from family. So, when an engineering position opened at Sanford Lab, he decided to throw his hat into the ring and two weeks ago, began his role as engineering technical associate.

“This is such a unique environment with so many projects and different people from around the world,” said Davis, a mechanical engineer who graduated from the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SD Mines) in 2010.

Davis’s work will focus on the LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) dark matter experiment, which is moving into the installation and assembly phase. “I’ll support various tasks to make sure the installation goes smoothly,” he said. The experiment is expected to begin operating in 2020 on the 4850 Level.

“Jacob is coming in at an important time for the LZ project—we’re going from design and development to the key assembly phase,” said Allan Stratman, engineering director. “It’s a one-of-a-kind project and Jake will be on the frontline as we begin to bring all the components together. He’s got seven years of experience in field engineering. I’m confident he’ll do a great job for us.”

After graduating from SD Mines, Davis worked for several years with Nucor Steel in Norfolk, Nebraska. But the Harding County native and his wife, Calli, were missing home, so four years ago they moved to the Black Hills. Davis took an engineering support position with a Los Angeles company that allowed him to work remotely, but included a lot of travel.

“I was gone a lot. And with two boys who are 4 and 3-years-old, I wanted to find something more local.”

When he’s not working, Davis spends time outdoors—hiking with his family, riding motorcycles, or working on the family ranch near Camp Crook. “That’s the original homestead and I’m the fifth generation to work the ranch.”