Meet our Sandia Weapon Intern Program Class of 2022 selections

  • Posted: Wednesday, January 5, 2022, 7:53 am

Pantexan Edward Graef
Pantexan Edward Graef and Y-12er Matthew Willard (not pictured) are part of the Sandia Weapon Intern Program, Class of 2022.

Two CNS employees are joining the ranks of the prestigious Sandia Weapon Intern Program (WIP) for the class of 2022. Edward Graef, Pantex physics senior specialist, and Matthew Willard, Y-12 process engineer, began the program in 2021.

Both Graef and Willard were excited about the program, saying it is considered by many within the Nuclear Security Enterprise to be a “once in a career” opportunity.

“I have had the opportunity to meet and work with so many other capable people at Pantex that it was humbling to know I was selected from among them for this opportunity,” Graef said.

“I was both humbled and excited about the opportunity,” Willard said. “It also comes with the realization that I am a representative of all of us here at Y-12.”

WIP was created by Sandia National Laboratories as a formal mechanism to pass decades of knowledge down to the next generation of scientists, engineers, and leaders. The year long program begins with classroom work and learning in the first six months, along with site visits, and research assignments. During the final months, participants are embedded in various organizations across Sandia to work on specific projects.

Both CNS participants were looking forward to learning from and working with other WIP interns and mentors from across the NSE.

“The collaborations will further expand my technical and leadership capabilities to better address our stewardship missions,” said Graef.

“One topic that I look forward to learning the most is about the lifecycle of the weapon systems,” Willard said. “Specifically, how DoD requirements turn into designs, those designs eventually become physical systems, and how those physical systems are assessed and certified throughout their lifetime so that they will function as intended if ever needed to.”

Over the course of the program, the interns will learn skills and knowledge that they’ll be able to bring back to their teams at Pantex and Y-12.

“I want to bring back a more refined set of communication skills and a better understanding of the NSE's needs for our evolving role in stockpile stewardship and safety,” Graef said. “For Pantex as a whole, I want to bring back clearer goals to advance our modeling and simulation-based engineering approaches to help address plant needs while also improving the safety and security of our workforce and the stockpile.”

Willard looks forward to the benefits of knowledge and professional relationships he will build. “Increased knowledge helps in understanding the ‘why’ when we may be asked to do things a certain way, that may be different from what we are used to being asked to do by our customers, and those relationships provide lines of communication throughout the NSE as we all continue our careers.”