Y-12 Blog

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - 2:40pm

Max Robertson, director of Information Technology Business Operations
Take 5 minutes and learn about Max Robertson, director of Information Technology Business Operations at Pantex and Y-12. All views and opinions are the employee’s and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

With digital systems and technology integral to how we operate, Information Solutions and Services enables a wide range of business-related and mission-essential services, processes, and products at Pantex and Y-12. To name a few, IS&S supports more than 13,000 devices, 4,000 VPN connections, and 2,000 servers that reside on our network. In honor of this year’s seventh annual IT Professionals’ Day, we recognize and thank the leaders and experts in the field of Information Technology and Cybersecurity that not only keep us connected and protected, but are part of building the future landscape of technology for our mission.

As the demand for new technology increases to support growth and modernization at the sites, Max Robertson, director of IT Business Operations, plays a major role in its development. From facilitating current projects that require IS&S support to approving procurements of new hardware and software, Robertson’s team is tasked with ensuring every form of technology on a project (e.g., computers, software, components) follows the required quality, security, and implementation steps before it meets the network.

“We are looking to the future in IS&S, but we also support the current projects across the business that are underway and require a digital footprint,” Robertson said. “While funding and scope are key, the people of IS&S are truly the essential element behind the success and completion of a project.”

What daily task lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission? How/why does that task let you know you’re working toward the mission?
There are a few daily tasks that factor into how I know we’re helping achieve the mission. First and foremost, it’s knowing that we’re keeping our systems and network operational. Secondly, it’s knowing how our projects are making positive progress, and lastly, it’s knowing if the demands are being scoped clearly. This helps my team and me see that we are supporting the foundation of the business today (i.e., systems, purchases, and contracts) and preparing to support technology in the future.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
I am doing so much more than I envisioned for myself. I had a limited vision at the beginning of my career. My background is in nuclear engineering, so my focus was working in a nuclear power plant for 30 to 40 years and then retiring. I never dreamed I would be able to accomplish all that I have in the past 35 years, including starting up first-of-kind nuclear facilities, protecting nuclear power plants from cyber threats, and modernizing nuclear fuel fabrication facilities.

What CNS principle drives you to be successful?
Own the Outcome (good or bad) and Set High Standards. With these two principles, we are held accountable for our work and we make our environment better than we found it.

What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex or Y‑12?
Our sites have a rich history, so change isn’t easy. However, change is needed to ensure we are relevant and focused on areas required for improvement. Be patient and diligent in your efforts. Ensure that you are working daily on the items that are important to the mission, DOE, and NNSA since we represent them. Remember that what we do here is vital to global security, and you play a key role in protecting our country, our values, and our nation’s allies.

What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
Those who don’t know me well might be surprised to know that I am a strong Christian. I also have a passion for digital technology and nuclear technology. While both are core to my interests, I feel the most satisfied when I am solving problems or fixing issues (must be my engineering background).

Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2022 - 8:01am

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2021 National Nuclear Security Administration’s security awards. The results were recently announced by NNSA's Associate Administrator and Chief of Defense Nuclear Security Jeff Johnson, and three of the four awards went to either Consolidated Nuclear Security or NNSA Production Office employees. A ceremony was recently held for those receiving the honors.

These awards recognize employees whose contributions to NNSA represent excellence and dedication to our national nuclear security.

The Y-12 Nuclear Material Control and Accountability team

Y-12 Nuclear Material Control and Accountability team
The Y-12 Nuclear Material Control and Accountability Team, NNSA's Security Team of the Year.

The Y-12 Nuclear Material Control and Accountability team has made positive contributions to national security by successfully and aggressively working to increase productivity and quality gains. This team successfully reduced inventory time and operational downtime, improved performance testing through 3-D printing and medical isotope data collection, initiated enhancements in reporting automation, and much more. The team’s collaborative efforts allowed them to exceed the previous reporting timeframe for final inventory to Nuclear Materials Management and Safeguards System.

John Fromberger, NNSA Production Office, NNSA Bradley A. Peterson Federal Security Professional of the Year

John Fromberger, NNSA Production Office
Roxanne Van Veghten, NPO assistant manager for Safeguards and Security, presents John Fromberger his award.

Fromberger, the NPO Protection Program Management federal program manager, has worked to strengthen relationships with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to effectively carry out responses to emergency operations and events on site. Fromberger coordinated with multiple agencies to conduct a complex “Fresh Pursuit” exercise that ensures effective response to potential large scale events.

Byron Logan, Pantex Plant, NNSA Security Manager of the Year

Pantex’s Byron Logan named NNSA Security Manager of the Year
Pantex’s Byron Logan, who was named NNSA Security Manager of the Year. Logan is responsible for Safeguards and Security Performance Testing, Self Assessments, and Issues Management.

Logan is responsible for Safeguards and Security Performance Testing, Self Assessments, and Issues Management. In 2021, under his leadership, the Office of Enterprise Assessments completed a successful multi topic assessment of the Pantex S&S program. Working within COVID-19 federal restrictions and safety measures implemented, the Office of Enterprise Assessments completed force on force testing and 16 integrated performance tests. His performance assurance program covers performance testing, self assessments, and issues management for all S&S topical areas: Protective Force, Physical Protection, Material Control and Accountability, Information Protection, Personnel Security, and Program Management Operations.

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Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 10:22am

Adry Lain (center), an intern who worked with Y 12 Development, explains his project at the 2022 Intern Expo.
Adry Lain (center), an intern who worked with Y-12 Development, explains his project at the 2022 Intern Expo.

The temperature may not feel like it, but summer is winding down. More than 50 interns at Pantex and Y-12 recently wrapped up their two month work experience with an Intern Expo. A few share what lessons they learned and memories they take with them.

Steven Keosouvanh, West Texas A&M University, major: computer information systems and business analytics

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
I was surprised at how happy each organization is to improve their workers so they can grow to be better and find their passions. I have heard so many stories of people starting in one place and pursuing their careers start to finish here and stories of people who became passionate in a different area of work then changing careers all while at CNS.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
For me, I enjoyed building workflow process with my intern team. It was great to have an intern team that was so motivated and collaborated so well together. I don’t think we could have completed our task alone if it weren’t for everyone’s motivation and the support system we had in Project Controls.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
The mission we have here is important, and Pantex and Y-12 are great places to work for those with experience and those who are new. It is built into the core philosophy of the company to embrace both ends of the experience spectrum.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Be clear when speaking to people and make it as unambiguous as possible so people can see my vision. I hope to take this advice and make an impact using technology and data driven thinking in my career.

Jonas Rivero, West Texas A&M University, major: mechanical engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
My biggest surprise during this internship was having the encouragement to ask any question and having coworkers and supervisors open to answering all of those questions. I felt comfortable reaching out to anybody without feeling like I was going to annoy someone, and I knew they encouraged asking more questions.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
I most enjoyed the tours provided to us through the internship. I had various tours and saw some very impressive things that I was very grateful to see.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
I think there is a very high importance for college students to consider a field that supports the mission because there are various opportunities. From having the opportunity to further your educational studies to moving on to another role within the plant, the opportunities are endless, and you have an important task no matter what role you have.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
A big piece of advice I received from a veteran employee was that there are a lot of knowledgeable people here, and you can learn something from everyone. I really listened to that advice and have really listened to what anybody who I encountered had to say. I’ve learned a lot of things that you can say I wouldn’t have learned in school, and I’m grateful I was able to experience this.

Serée Sturdivant, Texas Tech University, major: chemical engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
The thing that surprised me the most during my internship was the people. How nice and knowledgeable everyone was, how willing everyone was to help me get started and help me connect academic knowledge with industry needs and applications, and just how much I genuinely enjoyed working with my department. Everyone I reached out to wanted to help me however they could and taught me so much about where I fit in to the mission. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work/interact with!

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
During my internship, I most enjoyed getting to design an advanced chemical reactor/chemical processing system for one of my projects. It was a true design project and pushed me to the limits of my current knowledge and capabilities, which allowed me to push beyond those limits and learn so much more.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
It is important that college students consider a field that supports the Pantex and Y-12 mission because the mission is integral to our continued safety and freedom as a country. There are so many different paths within Pantex/Y-12 — no matter what major you are or what your interests are, there is a place for you! You do your best work and are most happy/fulfilled in the work that you do when you are passionate about the mission your work supports.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Some work advice I learned from a veteran employee was more by what he did than what he said. My manager, Steve Velarde in Mission Engineering, tackled every problem that arose with patience, knowledge, and understanding. He always had solutions to issues that arose along the processes of the two projects that I was working on and gave me a completely different perspective on how to lead with direction while allowing maximum creativity and learning. I want to simulate his work/leadership style while I begin my career.

Delaine Stiltner, Tennessee Technological University, major: civil engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
The initial shock of the security aspects of the job were a bit surprising at first. Security at Y-12 is one of the reasons this job is so unique.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
I enjoyed getting to work on several different projects this summer. I feel that I have grown significantly and have learned so much over the short time span of my internship. My favorite part about my job was getting to meet so many great people and working with different types of engineers!

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12?
Working at Pantex and Y-12 helps provide a service to our community and our country while allowing yourself to grow in a supportive and family driven environment.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Some of the best advice I learned was to always ask questions and make sure you document everything!

Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 10:05am

Lloyd Jollay addresses participants at the Nuclear Opportunities Workshop, presented by the East Tennessee Economic Council
Lloyd Jollay addresses participants at the Nuclear Opportunities Workshop, presented by the East Tennessee Economic Council.

Few communities are more comfortable with nuclear energy than Oak Ridge. That message rang loud and clear at this year’s Nuclear Opportunities Workshop, presented by the East Tennessee Economic Council.

The one-day conference featured dozens of nuclear industry leaders discussing topics from advanced reactors and nuclear fuels to the manufacture of radioisotopes.

In the audience were area nuclear contractors, businesses, interested vendors, and student interns looking for a career.

Acting CNS Chief Executive Officer and Y-12 Site Manager Gene Sievers, in his welcoming remarks, pointed out that the Oak Ridge and Knoxville area, with its assets at Y-12, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the University of Tennessee, make it uniquely suited for growth opportunities.

“We believe that Oak Ridge has many assets that make it the best place in the country to work in the nuclear industry,” Sievers said.

Sievers outlined Y-12’s missions: maintaining the United States’ nuclear stockpile, reducing global threats, and fueling the U.S. nuclear navy.

“Oak Ridge is known for its long and distinguished history of nuclear innovation, beginning with the creation and production of nuclear materials that ended World War II,” said Sievers.

He added that it should be no surprise that East Tennessee is leading the way in new nuclear opportunities. Sievers said those opportunities are at Y-12. “CNS is hiring,” he said emphatically.

“These world class institutions, combined with a community that is supportive of nuclear, make this area ideal for nuclear and job growth,” he said.

The final panel of the conference featured a discussion on a nuclear workforce. Ashley Stowe, director of the Oak Ridge Enhanced Technology and Training Center, spoke directly to the student interns in the audience, saying that at Y-12 alone, there were more than a thousand jobs that will need to be filled in the next fiscal year.

“We are hiring across the board,” he said. “You have the opportunity to work in history (alluding to Y-12’s Manhattan Project beginnings), help maintain the present, and look forward to the future,” Stowe said to the more than 180 attendees at the conference.

East Tennessee Economic Council’s 2022 Nuclear Opportunities Workshop
At the East Tennessee Economic Council’s 2022 Nuclear Opportunities Workshop, attendees heard about the great job opportunities in East Tennessee.
Acting CNS President and Chief Executive Officer and Y-12 Site Manager Gene Sievers
Acting CNS President and Chief Executive Officer and Y-12 Site Manager Gene Sievers addresses the attendees.
Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 9:43am

Y-12 Engineer Katie Romba, posing with one of her paintings
Y-12 Engineer Katie Romba, posing with one of her paintings

Engineering is defined as the “creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes.”

The term engineering is derived from the Latin ingenium, meaning “cleverness” and ingeniare, meaning to “contrive or devise.”

At Y-12, engineers help guide our mission work, often using clever, if not ingenious, methods. They troubleshoot problems and create solutions that make our work more efficient and better.

Engineers are also sometimes given certain stereotypes: math-whiz, fact-focused men.

However, engineers can be so much more. Engineers like Katie Romba are proof of that.

A 2019 Clemson graduate, she was hired at Y-12 into the Career One program. She’s worked rotations in Design Engineering, Specialty Mechanical (now Production Equipment Engineering), and is currently working on Development on the Technology Transition Project team, which is helping Y-12’s technology modernization efforts.

Engineering is her day job, but her passion is art.

“I got really serious about my art in my teens,” Romba said. In high school she entered the Congressional Art Competition, winning not once, but two years in a row. Her artwork was showcased in the U.S. Capitol building.

“Most of my work specializes in photo-realistic pieces and my go-to medias are acrylic painting, watercolor, marker, and colored pencil.

“My art captures what life is like around me,” she said.

Judging from a large part of her portfolio, what is around her is food. Growing up, she was plagued by childhood allergies.

She found herself allergic to almost every major food allergen (milk, wheat, eggs, peanuts) and so she couldn’t eat many of the things everyone else could.

“Instead, I would draw these foods, study their texture and color, and imagine what their flavors would be like through art.”

Since moving to the Oak Ridge area, Romba has become involved with the Dogwood Arts Festival. She’s been an exhibitor at the Dogwood Arts House and Garden Show Makers Market. She also joined the Tennessee Artist Association and participated in their fine arts programs.

In 2021, Romba opened the doors to her own studio, making art an official business and fulfilling a lifelong dream.

Despite that, she’s still very grounded and serious about her work at Y-12 inside the blue line.

“I enjoy the challenge that is offered in my work every day. There is always an opportunity to design a creative solution to a project’s needs, and I enjoy searching out opportunities to create a more efficient and better functioning work environment for our projects,” said Romba.

Romba also enjoys the challenge of growing her art. “My goal is for more of the community to experience my work by showing more pieces in galleries, both in the Knoxville area and around the country, and connect with others in the way we see the world around us,” she said.

Holiday ornament with personalized painting of customer’s pet dog
Realistic painting of pancakes
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