Y-12 Blog

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2024 - 7:29am

Y-12er father and son, Tim and Zach
Y-12er father and son, Tim and Zach, love that they have a shared mission at work.

June is the month to celebrate the fathers in our lives. Some lucky employees have the privilege of working with their fathers on‑site.

Meet Y-12ers Tim and Zach H., father and son.

Tim, a project manager in Y-12 Projects, and Zach, an electrician in Y-12 Construction, know very well what it looks like to follow in their fathers’ footsteps. Tim’s father and grandfather both worked at Y-12, and just like Zach, Tim started his career at Y-12 as an electrician.

“It is really cool to be able to say you are part of four generations who have worked to serve the very important mission here at Y-12 and have helped secure our nation’s freedom,” Tim said.

While they don’t get to see each other at work often, Tim says he’s fortunate to have a front row seat to see Zach grow in his career, be able to provide him with advice, and share the perspective he’s gained throughout his time at Y-12.

“He has taught me the importance of providing for my family and that if you have a good work ethic, the reward will find you,” Zach said about his dad.

From professional to personal achievements, Tim shares that he is proud of seeing Zach grow into the man he has become.

“Zach makes me proud on so many levels,” Tim said. “He is a new father himself and is such a great dad. On a professional level, he is someone who can be counted on to deliver and is always willing to learn new things. I guess that is something that Y-12 and I have in common; we are both lucky to have Zach.”

Posted: Tuesday, June 4, 2024 - 12:25pm

WiFi has enabled the Central Training Facility to connect digitally and complete classroom training at the click of a mouse.

Wireless technology has made its way to the Central Training Facility (CTF), creating a more efficient learning environment for security police officers.

Located about 8 miles west of Y‑12, CTF is a DOE‑certified and approved weapons qualification and training facility used to equip security personnel to protect national security assets, facilities, people, and government property.

“The CTF holds a variety of courses that range from entry‑level to tactical training disciplines,” said Jay W., CTF Range Operations manager.

Class sizes vary from 10 to 35 students, and courses are open to all DOE sites. The facility also holds site‑specific training and qualifications for more than 650 security police officers across three entities: Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge Protective Force, and Y‑12.

Trainees previously were unable to connect to the CNS network due to the lack of wired terminals. The installation of unclassified wireless access points now allows the classroom portion of the training to transition to online learning.

“Having wireless connectivity is a significant productivity gain for our facility where students previously had to share a single computer to access National Training Center coursework through a wired connection point,” Jay said. “Now, students are able to connect at any point using their laptops and cell phones.”

Collaboration among CTF, Information Solutions and Services, Safeguards and Security, and Operations Health brought project success earlier than expected.

“A WiFi signal at CTF was something we didn’t believe was possible a year ago,” said Joe R., Physical Security senior engineer. “Yet, we finished the entire process — from configuration and testing to installation — in 12 months.”

Now that the facility has the foundation to connect wirelessly, additional resources are being planned to further develop the facility and classroom training. For instance, a wireless‑enabled air‑quality monitoring system for the indoor range is being tested to fulfill an Occupational Safety and Health Administration requirement. Once operational, the system will allow range managers to observe and maintain environmental and occupational controls to protect personnel from the effects of lead, noise, or any other relevant exposures.

Training costs will also be significantly reduced over time as pages of lesson plans are moved to a web‑based platform. “Students without computers still have the option to have physical copies of the training manuals, but we’re looking forward to being able to go fully electronic,” Jay said.

To support a full‑time online training environment, the facility’s goal is to establish a wireless computer lab by Fiscal Year 2025 after evaluations and testing are complete. As of March, the CTF conducted a test bed with a basic instructor class of 16 personnel.

“Once finished, the computer lab will give us the option to completely eliminate the need to print training materials,” Jay said. “Based on current manuals at 750 pages for each student, we estimate that we’ll save approximately 26,250 pages per training class, plus have the availability to apply updates automatically without reprinting.”

Installing unclassified wireless at the CTF is a sign of progress, and Digital Transformation integrated product teams are continuing to make risk-informed decisions to enable wireless in other areas across the site while complying with technical security, cybersecurity, and NNSA requirements.

“Our end goal is to implement solutions that support access to business, security, and operations systems site‑wide through wireless technology,” said Mark P., Digital Transformation senior manager. “Right now, we are still in the process of determining requirements and maturing technical implementation plans to address any potential wireless vulnerabilities and ensure that we’re delivering the best product for our mission.”

Posted: Monday, May 20, 2024 - 2:59pm

Recruiting diverse talent: partnering with HBCUs

Y-12 has been recruiting from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutions (MSIs) since the 1970s.

“The reason I’m in Oak Ridge is because I was recruited by Union Carbide 52 years ago,” said Edwena C., senior manager of Documents and Records Management. “When I arrived, there were students from HBCUs working for Union Carbide at all three sites [Y-12, Oak Ridge National Lab, and K-25].”

Edwena, a South Carolina State University (SCSU) graduate, continued, stating, “The company trained a number of us to be recruiters so they would have a pipeline of students from HBCUs. In the late 1970s, we had 50-to-60 SCSU graduates working at the sites.”

Mentoring HBCU graduates is also important, according to her. “Many of these students are first generation graduates without the background and support they need. Supporting them in becoming successful is quite rewarding.”

Continuing the legacy

Decades later, recruiting at HBCUs and MSIs is still bearing fruit. Sanchez H., lead assessor for Performance Excellence, was recruited by BWXT when he was in his fourth year at Tennessee State University (TSU). Sanchez had not completed an internship, but a former member of the BWXT Work for Others organization who had an on-site office at TSU, suggested that he apply.

“Other than wishing Y-12 was located in Nashville,” he joked, “I don’t have many regrets.”

Sanchez got into recruiting while waiting for his clearance, and he still works to support students from HBCUs. As chair of NOBLE (Network of Black Leaders for Excellence), he said the organization has four goals: recruit, retain, develop, and promote Black employees. “It takes everyone to bridge that gap and get us to where we need to be,” he stated.

Y-12 Recruiting and Placement Director Amanda H. emphasizes the importance and value of diversity recruiting. CNS recruiters attend HBCU and MSI recruiting job fairs each year to attract talent. However, CNS recruiting goes beyond job fair attendance. CNS also develops educational partnerships with HBCUs and MSIs to create future talent pipelines.

“One of the best ways to reach talent is to communicate with them where they spend the most time, which is why CNS uses geo-fenced targeted job ads that are designed to display on mobile devices at various HBCU/MSI schools––and even particular buildings––as students go about their day,” she said.

Recruiting and Placement also works with the Nuclear Security Enterprise to recruit from diverse populations. Recently, CNS Educational Partner Recruiter Nick F. and Mission Engineering Hiring Manager Kevin S. joined other NNSA labs, plants, and sites at the National Nuclear Enterprise’s Low Country recruiting event at Claflin University. This event was a joint effort to reach HBCUs and MSIs in South Carolina’s low country.

Partnering with HBCUs

Y-12 and the managing and operating contractors over the years have done much more than just recruit from HBCUs—they have supported them. Y-12 was the first DOE site to have a mentor-protégé agreement with an HBCU.

Supporting SCSU

Edwena C. chairs the Industrial Advisory Council at SCSU, and Chris R., Global Security and Strategic Partnerships, is a member of the council as well.

Chris R. noted that SCSU started out with engineering technology programs. Some of those have now been converted to ABET-accredited engineering programs, including the nuclear engineering program with which he works.

“We actually have a radiation detector on-site at SCSU,” he said. “It helps them understand the machine and its sensitivities as well as what it is like to work in a radioactive environment.”

Chris R. added, “The departments are very hands-on, and the students we’ve had here as co-ops and new hires have all been very impressive.”

Advantages of recruiting from HBCUs

Recruiting at HBCUs is also advantageous for the company and the site. “When you recruit from HBCUs, you gain diversity,” stated Edwena C. “And when you look at where the HBCUs are located in the south—Georgia, North and South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi—they all touch Tennessee. We have an opportunity to reach so many HBCUs.”

Sanchez H. agreed, saying, “HBCUs provide a pipeline of diverse people and perspectives who enhance learning organizations. HBCUs also tend to produce resilient employees who are more capable of handling adversity and performing in non-ideal situations.”

He also noted that while HBCUs make up only 3% of colleges and universities, they produce 20% of all Black graduates. He stated, “Promoting and recruiting from HBCUs is essential to creating equity in America.”

“It is great to work for a company that values diversity recruiting but also to work as part of an enterprise that holds the same value,” Amanda H. agreed.

If you want to learn more about CNS recruiting efforts, contact Amanda H. at Amanda.hurley@pxy12.doe.gov.

Posted: Thursday, May 16, 2024 - 12:50pm

Celebrating Armed Forces Day
.Celebrating Armed Forces Day

Being part of a military family has challenges and benefits unique to military service. Our servicemembers give up a lot of freedoms to protect our nation, but so do the families supporting them. These families are often unrecognized for their role in service to the nation. They often don’t have a choice regarding where they will live and work. The servicemember is deployed for months at a time, leaving the family behind to deal with the home front.

That longing for togetherness as well as concerns for safety are heightened when the servicemember is deployed to a combat environment.

“The most challenging part of being a military family is when the servicemember gets deployed to a remote location and communicating is very limited,” said Lisa H., information specialist in CNS Communications at Y‑12. “This is especially challenging when the remote location is in a war zone. When your family member is away, you try to keep busy with day‑to‑day challenges of life, but your mind is always on the one deployed.”

Those extended deployments can stress the family environment, but they also create opportunities.

Y-12er Rose R. stands with her husband, Major Brennan R., at his promotion ceremony.
Y‑12er Rose R. stands with her husband, Major Brennan R., at his promotion ceremony.

Rose R., Y‑12 administrative assistant for Nuclear Safety, describes her life as an adventure.

“Being a military family is different to lives as nonmilitary families, as expectations for your level of flexibility and resiliency are much higher than in regular civilian life,” Rose said. “We have moved 7 times in the past 14 years to places like Vicenza, Italy; Tunis, Tunisia; and my husband is currently stationed in Mali. It can be difficult to plant deep roots anywhere, but you have roots far and wide, across the U.S. or the world, wherever your posts may be.”

Like their active‑duty counterparts, many military families develop deep bonds with other families where they’re stationed.

“Your military friends and associates become your family members, especially when serving overseas,” Lisa said. “You are in a small, remote group with the same purpose. They are family you will always maintain contact with, just as you would your immediate family. If you need help, your ‘family’ will be the ones there to assist.”

The bond that military family members who work at Pantex and Y‑12 share also strengthens their sense of pride to be part of the sites’ missions, knowing the work they do directly affects their servicemembers’ lives.

As both seen and unseen sacrifices continue to be made daily for the protection of our nation, Pantexans and Y‑12ers would like to say “thank you” to all active servicemembers, veterans, and military families for all they give in service to this country.

Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2024 - 9:48am

May is the month to celebrate the mothers in our lives. Some lucky employees even have the privilege of working with their mothers on-site.

Y-12er mother and son, Patty and Bryson B.

Meet Y-12er mother and son, Patty and Bryson B.

Bryson B., roads and grounds laborer for Y-12 Infrastructure, joined Y-12 in 2021 and thought it was especially neat to see the place his mom and dad worked for many years.

“The best part of working in the same company is being able to spend time with each other more often and occasionally spend time together at work as well,” Bryson said.

Patty B., scheduler in Y-12 Project Controls, who started at Y-12 in 2011, says while their fields of work aren’t related, as a mom, she loves that they have a shared mission at work.

“It’s awesome knowing we both have the opportunity to help our site and our nation in some small way,” she said.

Bryson is grateful for the example his mom has set for him throughout his life.

“My mom has always shown me hard work, respect, and honesty with everything she does, and I try my best to replicate and follow these great examples,” he said.

To say that Patty is proud of her son would be an understatement.

“Bryson has accomplished many things in his life,” she said. “I am thankful and proud of each one, but I am most proud of who he is. He is such a wonderful person. He is a sweet soul, always keeps you laughing, and makes life fun. He is a complete joy to be with, and of course to me, the best son in the world.”