Y-12 Blog

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 8:54am
Michael Lovelady, Y-12 Mission Engineering

Michael Lovelady,
Y-12 Mission Engineering

See something? Take action. That’s what Michael Lovelady of Y-12 Mission Engineering did on a trip to work last fall.

Whatever you do, don’t call him a hero.

Michael Lovelady, Y-12 Mission Engineering, was on his way to work this fall when he saw a massive fireball explode over the trees in the dark, early morning sky. He knew from the color that it wasn’t a transformer blowing.

He immediately stopped at the scene to see if he could help. An Army combat medic for 12 years, Lovelady is a man used to heading toward danger rather than away from it. To him, that’s not anything special.

“I’m just someone who pitches in to get something done,” he said. “You just do what you need to do.”

When he arrived at the house, he said, “[It was] completely destroyed. There was absolutely nothing standing. Even what was once a fireplace was gone. Just a total debris field. There were some embers but no flames.”

A police officer arrived, and Lovelady joined him in a search of the property.

“When we went around back, we saw this man in his 20s standing in the middle of what was left of his house,” Lovelady said. “He was wearing just shorts that were half blown off, with burns, and asking what happened.”

Lovelady led the injured man to the front road to wait for the fire department paramedics while the officer continued searching.

“The man was in complete shock, so I kept him calm and assisted the fire department EMT in tending to his injuries.” Lovelady said. “A couple minutes later, the man asked, ‘Where’s my partner?’, and I realized there may be someone else who needs help.”

Luckily, no other person was in the house. (Sadly, however, a cat did not survive.) The man’s partner arrived with the injured man’s parents, who heard the explosion a little farther down the street. The injured man is recovering and authorities are still investigating the cause of the explosion.

“It’s not a matter of if will I do something. I’m already involved. My body just reacts; it’s already in motion,” Lovelady explained.

Lovelady has always helped others. As an Eagle Scout, Lovelady was awarded the Honor Medal “for unusual heroism in saving a … life at considerable risk to self” when he rescued a young girl from drowning in a fast running river. He and his father volunteered many times during recovery efforts after hurricanes hit Louisiana’s coastal areas. Right after 9/11, he was non-commissioned officer in charge of night shift operations in New Orleans; and, as a sergeant in Iraq, he led an immediate response team that triaged and evacuated personnel from initial scenes to higher medical care facilities.

After returning home, Lovelady used his experiences to invent a medical triage tagging system. He filed a patent; and in 2014, Y-12 filed for two more patents for tools and safety devices under his name. Lovelady recently was recognized with a Technology Transfer Support Award for 2019 in recognition of his contribution to technology promotion and licensing.

And given his rescue assistance during the more recent house explosion, “just doing what you need to do” continues for Lovelady.

“I just think it’s how you are; either you’ve got it in you to run toward something or you don’t. I really don’t have a choice to help or not,” he said. “You just try to put order in the chaos.”

Posted: Thursday, January 21, 2021 - 8:45am
Paul Beckman, Chief Information Security Officer

Paul Beckman,
Chief Information Security Officer

With peaked interest surrounding the coronavirus vaccine, cybercriminals are determined to exploit our feelings or anticipation in the form of social engineering. Reports have shown cyber threat actors baiting potential victims with vaccine-themed scams.

Examples of these scams include phishing emails holding varying subject lines that may reference surveys, information about vaccine coverage, locations to receive the vaccine, ways to reserve a vaccine, and vaccine requirements. Additionally, malicious links or attachments included in these phishing campaigns may impersonate familiar and trusted entities or brands.

You are the first line of defense in protecting your digital resources. In building your guard, it is important to be vigilant of the signs of cyber threats, keep a questioning attitude, and remain aware of protective criteria.

  • Never open an email or hyperlink from an unknown sender.
  • Be wary of unknown phone calls or robocalls that claim you have a problem, request financial information, or offer help. Most companies do not call users to notify you of a problem or to verify your financial data.
  • If you’ve received a hyperlink that seems suspicious, hover your mouse over the link to view the link’s web address and verify that it isn’t directing you to a different or unknown website.
  • Avoid clicking on pop-up messages or hyperlinks out of curiosity involving controversial topics. Hackers take advantage of people’s emotional decisions and often use curiosity as a tactic.
Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 4:50pm

Bill Tindal

Learn something new about Bill Tindal, CNS’s chief operating officer.

Take 5 minutes and learn more about Bill Tindal, CNS’s chief operating officer.

When Bill Tindal joined Y-12 in 1995, being the chief operating officer for the management and operating contractor that now manages two sites and has about 10,000 employees didn’t even cross his mind.

“There are many times I thought I had reached the pinnacle of my career,” Tindal said. “When I look back on my roles, I would have been happy with several of those being my top stop — being the production manager of Building 9212 or being the vice president of production.”

During his 25 years, he’s grown along the way and keeps those lessons learned close at hand. “I think with each role I’ve had, I understand a little more that we all have important work to do. In my early days, I always thought the most important work being done on site was what I was doing, but then as I learned about the amazing work being done in other areas and organizations, I began to see how each role contributes a piece to the puzzle. I realized I was playing a small role in a much bigger picture.”

This sentiment — that every one of us has a role that contributes to the national security mission — is something Tindal has always been vocal about and something he wants everyone to appreciate.

“Through my experience, I have learned there are no unimportant jobs at either site. They are all important,” he said. “If one doesn’t work properly, it affects another group, which affects another, and so on. Pantex and Y-12 are part of an even larger whole, and we all have to do our part for the Nuclear Security Enterprise to be successful.”

Tindal said we often feel as if our piece is the most important part, but without all sites within the NSE working together, we wouldn’t accomplish the National Nuclear Security Administration’s goals.

“Asking for help and recognizing I don’t have all the answers is important,” Tindal said. “There are a lot of great people at Pantex and Y-12. Be humble, and ask for help when you don’t understand. If you really care about mission success, you have to stop and make sure you understand what people mean, especially when going into a new position.”

As COO, Tindal now travels to Pantex and has learned (and continues to learn) more about its missions and people.

“One thing that is different is each site’s lingo, but I’m improving,” he said. “One constant at both sites is the quality of the people. All are passionate and willing to help. Pantexans have the same passion and interaction that Y-12 employees have. I’ve always felt at home at either site.”

What advice would you give to your 1995, new hire, self?

What may feel like an immense challenge is really an opportunity to gain experience. Challenges (readiness reviews, frustrations with equipment) may be frustrating, but recognize that doing the right thing is rarely the easiest path.

What advice would you offer to someone who is starting their career?

Don’t be afraid to ask why. Ask why and how your job fits into mission success.

Don’t be afraid to fail. Each bad day turns out to be something we learn from. In my office, I have a bookshelf where I have mementos that remind me of lessons learned from risks or challenges we’ve faced. One of those items is a piece of quartz glass that was part of the first microwave project. We learned several things during that project, and the trinkets on my shelf remind me of the good and bad days.

What’s your top bucket list item and why?

When I retire and COVID is behind us, my wife and I want to complete the Great Loop. We hope to take a year to complete the 6,000-mile continuous boat route of connected waterways that allow you to boat completely around the eastern United States, starting in Tennessee.

Posted: Wednesday, January 20, 2021 - 4:39pm

Michelle Reichert

Learn more about CNS President and Chief Executive Officer Michelle Reichert. Please note the photo was taken in 2019, prior to the pandemic.

Take 5 minutes and learn more about Michelle Reichert, CNS's president and chief executive officer.

Michelle Reichert, CNS's president and chief executive officer, is a familiar face, even when it is behind a mask. She was part of the original CNS executive leadership team, but her experience at Pantex and Y-12 precedes the current contractor. Reichert came to Y-12 straight from graduate school, and she gained valuable experience during her 22 years at Y-12. She has been in senior leadership roles at Pantex since 2013.

“My background is varied — Production, ES&H, program management — and I view that as a strength,” she said. Others must too, because in 2020, Reichert became the first woman chief executive officer at Pantex or Y-12, and one of the first in the position within the Nuclear Security Enterprise.

An early adopter and fervent champion of change management (the people side of change), Reichert has demonstrated her commitment to employees as well as continuous improvement throughout her CNS tenure. Read on to learn more about Reichert’s early career aspirations, what she’s cooking up next, and her advice to new employees.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.

Ha! Not even close. I thought I would be a performance musician. I played the flute and really enjoyed it. But, I continued in the sciences while in college, and I was good in that area, too. When a fellow student received a summer internship at the University of California at Berkeley, I was really motivated to learn more about internships — and that initially fueled a continued pursuit of sciences. In fact, my first internship was at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington.

What CNS principle drives you to be successful?

Continuous improvement — because it is vital to meeting the national security priorities of our country. We’re improving our infrastructure to improve working conditions for our employees and enable us to meet our deliverables for the long term; we’re improving ourselves as leaders and employees; and we have teams looking at our processes.

What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?

In college, I enjoyed — and excelled at — biology, particularly the study of human anatomy and physiology. The courses all involved dissection (yes, including humans), and I found learning about how the body works to be fascinating. Once I put aside my dreams to be a concert flautist, I thought about becoming a forensic pathologist. The Kay Scarpetta detective novels and perhaps the television show Quincy, M.E. (I’m sure many reading this won’t know who Quincy was — just think about the TV show Bones) may have influenced this possible career choice.

What’s your favorite outside of work activity and why?

Family is very important to me, so I’m often catching up with everyone outside of work. I also really enjoy cooking, and we’re all big fans of America’s Test Kitchen and the British Baking Show. Both cooking and family help me unwind. I cook almost every night. Dan, my husband, says he can tell how my day was by how aggressively I chop the vegetables!

What advice would you offer to someone who is starting their career?

Really get engaged — not just with your job, but also in your community or perhaps an affinity group. These other connections will give you a broader perspective beyond your daily responsibilities. Find your passion — both on and off site — then have a plan. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Your perspective is important, so engage, offer your ideas, and stay involved.

Posted: Tuesday, December 22, 2020 - 12:24pm

With technology essential to our daily lives, cybersecurity education is increasingly growing

With technology essential to our daily lives, cybersecurity education is increasingly growing

From cracking textbooks open to cracking codes, cybersecurity is entering the halls of secondary education in East Tennessee. In expanding cybersecurity knowledge beyond the sites, CNS Chief Information Security Officer Paul Beckman virtually met with 25 students from Bearden High School’s Cybersecurity 1 class, led by Timothy Cathcart, Ph.D., to present his professional insight in the digital world.

With more than 20 years in the industry, Beckman shared his background, life lessons, and experience with the class. Beginning his civil service career with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2005, Beckman joined CNS in March and emphasized the gravity of ensuring cybersecurity for the CNS mission and the importance of cybersecurity in industries nationwide.

“What was traditionally considered just internet security has now become everything security,” Beckman said. “Whether it’s our phones, refrigerators, or vehicles, everything is becoming a computer, which increases our exposure to cyber risk; thus, the need to implement effective cybersecurity protections is no longer reserved to just our desktops.”

Beckman shared how his background and degree in psychology have translated to the cybersecurity industry - especially when it comes to assessing risk probability.

“Whether we realize it or not, it’s in our nature as human beings to continuously assess risk hundreds of times a day, and often times we get it wrong due to shortcuts our brains take called heuristics,” Beckman said. “From a psychology standpoint for example, we typically assess risks as being lower when they are within our direct control. These are the everyday risks like driving a car. Conversely, we tend to assess risks as being higher for things that we feel are out of our control, such as flying or riding as a passenger in a car. With cyber risks, we have to be cognizant of these inaccurate shortcuts our brains take and ensure we accurately and objectively assess the risks posed against our assets,” he said.

Meanwhile, as we continue to exponentially evolve in the digital era, Beckman recognized what it means for future growth and challenges in the cyber industry. In reference to Moore’s Law, which suggests that the speed and capability of our computers will double every two years with decreased costs, underscores the growing threat and signifies the importance of having cybersecurity professionals and skills to serve the demand.

“There is still by far a negative unemployment ratio in the cybersecurity industry. There are more cybersecurity jobs out there than there are people to fill them,” Beckman said.

Setting the stage to meet that need, Cathcart’s students are learning the basic concepts of cybersecurity with an emphasis on integration, application, practices, devices, and ethics. In addition to concepts, students are able to demonstrate how to implement cybersecurity features within a networking system and how to protect network information.

To those potential future minds of the cybersecurity industry, Beckman noted the importance of being fluent in cyber and overall information technology principles. However, when asked what he looks for in a future cyber professional or candidate, it’s having a learning mindset that thinks of ways to find solutions.

“We have the responsibility to encourage and inspire our youth to pursue the industry and become the next generation of information security professionals,” Beckman said. “No two days are the same in cybersecurity, and our adversaries are always adapting their tactics to our defenses, requiring that we have the strongest and brightest workforce to help defend against those adversaries.”

Beckman’s time with the Bearden students is just one example of how CNS is working to connect with young people who could eventually be part of the workforce. “The ability to make an impact and support the development of future professionals by pairing our experts with opportunities to share their knowledge is critical to our education community,” said CNS Education Outreach Specialist Kristin Waldschlager.