Y-12 Blog

Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2021 - 4:56pm

Students from as far away as New York participated in the cybersecurity camp sponsored by Y-12 National Security Complex.

Cybersecurity camp sponsored by Y-12 National Security Complex.

Knowing how to be safe online is important for anyone old enough to use a computer or smartphone. Y-12’s educational outreach program is doing its part to make sure students know how to protect themselves, while also encouraging them to grow and maintain an interest in cybersecurity that could lead to a potential career.

For the second summer, Y-12 National Security Complex partnered with Roane State Community College to offer an innovative approach to cybersecurity education through a virtual camp for middle and high school students who are considering careers in Information Technology. The camp was designed to engage today’s hyper-connected young people with firsthand examples of mobile forensics and the damage a cyberattack can do.

George Meghabghab, director of the RSCC Computer Information Technology program, led the camp. “I loved each minute of the camp, and the students felt the same way,” he said.

The first four-day camp, held for high school students, was conducted in early June. The July camp was held for middle school students from as far away as New York and Maryland. Students attending the camps from closer to home were from Knoxville, Oak Ridge, Spring City, Rockwood, Kingston, Oliver Springs, Maryville, Oakdale, and Clinton.

The students were given opportunities to apply their individual skillsets in a group setting in hopes of realizing that they’re always going to be learning and finding new ways to identify solutions to problems. Meghabghab said the students wanted to know how a cybersecurity breach can happen.

“I felt students wanted to do hands-on work more than ever before, which is why I do what I do,” Meghabghab said. “I feel interest in this camp is exploding,” he continued. “I believe the virtual outreach is critical, and I am glad we did it this way. I hope we can use the same format next year.”

Cybersecurity camp participant
Cybersecurity camp participant
Cybersecurity camp participant
Posted: Thursday, August 12, 2021 - 4:49pm

CNS ensures help for domestic violence victims
In a time of heartache and abuse, organizations like the Knoxville Family Justice Center are there for victims of domestic violence

Consolidated Nuclear Security continues to look for ways to help our communities toward recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The company recently turned to the East Tennessee Foundation and its Neighbor to Neighbor Fund to join with the CNS Community Investment Fund. Together, CNS and ETF were able to quickly get much needed resources to several nonprofit organizations in East Tennessee.

Knoxville Family Justice Center’s Navigator Program
Imagine being isolated and alone with only an abusive partner at your side. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic only increased the stress caused by abusive relationships. Safer at home orders, furloughs, and unemployment left many victims of domestic violence trapped with nowhere to escape.

Carmen was in that situation. Her boyfriend, with whom she had a history of explosive fights, had been laid off and his angry outbursts had escalated. He became even more controlling, threatening violence to her and her dogs.

Fortunately for Carmen, she found the website of the Knoxville Family Justice Center, a hub of 47 collaborating organizations including shelter, advocacy, and law enforcement. She cried out for help through an email.

“Our navigators responded immediately, and we asked if she had a safe phone number so we could text her,” said Kathy Hatfield, the Family Justice Center’s grant writer.

Through text messages, KFJC navigators connected Carmen with advocates from its partner agencies. Through their help Carmen was able to escape her abuser.

Hatfield said the pandemic created obstacles for everyone. For the Knoxville Family Justice Center, it required the Center to adapt quickly to COVID-19 safety protocols. Its trained volunteers could not be used, increasing the work of paid staff.

Thanks to a $2,500 CNS grant, coupled with $4,700 from the East Tennessee Foundation, KFJC was able to provide funding for its Navigator Program for Survivors of Domestic Violence and address the needs of survivors.

Staff members were also repurposed for victim care, coordinating appointments, and ensuring a sterile facility for in person meetings when necessary because of extreme danger in a victim’s situation. When possible, survivors were encouraged to call ahead so on site visits could be staggered.

Hatfield said the support of CNS and East Tennessee Foundation’s Neighbor to Neighbor Fund allowed KFJC to perform vital services for survivors of domestic violence during the pandemic.

“Your support resulted in survivors reporting improved safety, better access to resources, and a better understanding of abuse,” Hatfield said.

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2021 - 3:08pm

Kami Bush, who supports CNS’s VMware virtual infrastructure, stands in front of a Y-12 server rack in Building 9117.
Kami Bush, who supports CNS’s VMware virtual infrastructure, stands in front of a Y‑12 server rack in Building 9117.

Think about your daily routine for work. Often, technology plays a role that is front and center. As a collection of hardware, software, applications, and networks, it has undoubtedly grown to serve as a gateway to how we connect with others, find information, track data, or essentially solve problems.

As end users, we infrequently question how or why technology works; it only matters that it does. Yet, behind the secured doors of an internal server room or the screen of a computer supervising our CNS network is an IT systems administrator ensuring that we’re operational and online.

“Our team of administrators are critical to how we connect and perform as an enterprise,” said Brad Burdett, director of IT Operations, who leads a team of more than 50 systems administrators.

From monitoring computer servers and data storage, maintaining virtualization and VPN capabilities, deploying new applications, to solving unplanned system outages, Information Solutions and Services’ systems administrators touch every point of technology at Pantex and Y‑12.

“The most essential skill an IT systems administrator can have is critical thinking,” said IT systems administrator, Kami Bush, who specializes in hardware, storage, and virtualization at Y‑12. “Planning a deployment, creating architecture, or troubleshooting a problem all require critical thinking skills. It’s important that we’re able to see not only the ‘forest,’ but also the ‘trees’ within.”

Keeping attention to detail, the scope of IT systems administrators requires that they look beyond the big picture and into to the ”trees” to monitor operational risks to existing and newly procured hardware, software, or applications connected to our internal network. With more than 2,000 servers and 2,4000 applications connected to the network, it is no easy task.

“The most challenging part of my career is keeping up with the technology. As soon as you get well‑versed in a version or architecture, a new one that is more efficient or powerful replaces it,” Bush said. “That constant advancement means you never get bored, but you also are always challenged to read up on the cutting edge as it will eventually be the new normal.”

Ask any systems administrator and most will agree that change is inevitable in technology. After 15 years at Pantex, IT systems administrator Edmond Keller has served witness and contributor to its growth at the site.

“I have been in the technology industry since 1985. While that does not quite qualify me as ancient in the industry, I am a bit of a dinosaur,” Keller said.

For point of reference, 1985 was also the year the .com domain was born.

“The technology industry consistently reinforces that when you think you have something figured out, there will be an event or situation which proves you really don’t know what you think you know. It is guaranteed humility training,” he said.

Entering the era of digital transformation across our nation and our sites, technology will continue to evolve to better serve the lives and work of our people. As we move from wired to wireless or cords to clouds, you can guarantee that an IT systems administrator will be behind it. In recognition of the 22nd annual IT Systems Administrator Appreciation Day this year, we thank all of you for your work and dedication at Pantex and Y‑12.

Posted: Friday, July 30, 2021 - 2:43pm

A political science major at UT, Asya H. is gaining knowledge about nuclear safeguards during her internship.
A political science major at UT, Asya H. is gaining knowledge about nuclear safeguards during her internship.
Asya H. comes from a family of engineers.

Her father, Ali, is a civil engineer and assistant director with Tennessee Department of Transportation; her brother, Arda, graduated in the spring with a mechanical engineering degree from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. So, it seems she is a natural for the CNS Summer Internship Program.

However, Asya didn’t follow in her family’s footsteps and engineered a different path to her internship and arrived a UT political science major.

“My dad is a math whiz,” she said. “He can solve calculus problems in his head. All that math and science goes over my head.”

The rising senior is among 51 CNS interns, who hail from 13 states and 25 colleges. Y‑12 boasts 36 interns, while Pantex hosts 15. With an almost 50 50 split among male and female participants, the majority of interns, 33, are engineering majors, followed by computer science degree seekers.

“The intern program is definitely growing,” said Cristy Landrum, a human resources recruiter at Y‑12. “We had 40 interns last summer. We’re excited to welcome the interns onboard.”

The program began June 7 and offers specialized professional development training, which enhances communication networking, career goal setting, and professionalism. Each intern has a defined work scope and a summer project, which will be showcased at an expo August 10. The program ends August 12.

In summer 2020, the program went virtual because of the COVID‑19 pandemic. This year students have the choice of onsite, remote, and hybrid participation.

The lone political science major (with emphasis on international affairs) in the program, Aysa is going the hybrid route, spending a couple of days on site at Y‑12. Her goal is to become a lawyer and specialize in international nuclear law.

“It’s a very niche kind of field,” she said. “I have a lot to learn. I’m reading lots of legal documents,” which she is doing under the guidance of internship mentor Hannah Hale, a program manager within Global Security and Strategic Partnerships at Y‑12.

This summer, Aysa is primarily working with NNSA’s NA 241, Office of International Nuclear Safeguards. Within the office, she supports NA 241’s International Nuclear Safeguards Engagement Program — whose mission is to work with partners from around the world as they adopt and implement international nuclear safeguards agreements — a pivotal part of the nuclear non nonproliferation regime. For her summer project, she will participate in and support a virtual workshop about import and export reporting requirements under a safeguards agreement with 13 Middle Eastern states.

Kennedy V. is focusing on explosives technology at her third summer stint at Pantex.
Kennedy V. is focusing on explosives technology at her third summer stint at Pantex.

A great introduction
As a three‑time intern at Pantex, Kennedy V. has gained a lot from the program.

“It has helped me develop my networking skills and grow as a scientist and engineer,” said the first year West Texas A&M University graduate student. “It’s been great. The hands on experience at West Texas A&M is limited, so coming to work in the Pantex laboratory, I was excited to gain more knowledge using the technology I learned so much about during my undergrad.”

This summer, Kennedy will examine things that go boom, but not really. She is an intern in Explosive Technology in High Explosives and Materials Testing.

“My project will involve the analysis of LM 17 mock composition, using a near infrared spectrometer,” she explained. “The mock material acts as a non‑energetic simulator for inclusion in test assemblies, where actual explosives would be hazardous or unnecessary.”

The composition of the mock explosive should react similarly to its real counterpart without detonation.

The process is only one stage of explosives testing, which has improved over time.

“Once developed, the near infrared technique should only take a couple hours to get composition results,” Kennedy said. “Newer methods have advanced this process to a few days, and there was even a time when it took multiple weeks.”

Kennedy, who also has an undergraduate professional chemistry degree, said “I love explosive technology. It’s a great introduction into the engineering world.”

Y 12 intern Joshua W. holds the sensors used in the ChIMES (Chemical Identification by Magnetoelastic Sensing) Sensor Miniaturization project.
Y‑12 intern Joshua W. holds the sensors used in the ChIMES (Chemical Identification by Magnetoelastic Sensing) Sensor Miniaturization project.

Keeping it current
Intern Joshua W., a senior at Texas Tech University, has returned for his second summer at Y‑12.

“It has been a really great time,” said the electrical engineering major. “The technology is crazy. You learn a lot of stuff in school, but to actually see it play out in a real application is so different.”

Last summer, Joshua’s project was ChIMES (Chemical Identification by Magnetoelastic Sensing) Sensor Miniaturization. The technology differentiates types of and amounts of chemicals present in a system. Chemicals can be sensed through metallic and nonmetallic barriers. When a sensor that is attached to a magnetic wire is exposed to chemicals, the tension applied to the wire changes. This change alters its magnetic properties. For the project, Joshua’s objective was to help transform the tabletop device into a more portable version.

For summer 2021, “It’s a new project, same device,” Joshua said. “There’s still a lot of work to do.” This time he will focus on the device’s sensors.

“I’m going to learn how to fabricate the sensors for target materials,” he explained.

Also, Joshua hopes to install a new circuit board on the device. He has worked on the board for months as a research at Texas Tech.

“I’m integrating the board with a system that’s already built,” he explained. “I’m implementing lab work with a real project. I built this thing and [I am] not sure if it will work on the real device.”

Joshua acknowledges that many hands and minds have touched the ChIMES project.

“There is a long line of interns who have been working on this,” he said. “I’ve just added some of my own flourishes.”

Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2021 - 12:07pm

Y-12 supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley
The Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley is one of many organizations that helps provide childcare services to families. By the Boys & Girls Clubs keeping its doors open during the pandemic, children were able to continue being children.

CNS sought to help community organizations respond to critical needs throughout the pandemic by providing contributions rapidly and responsibly. An important step was directing CNS Community Investment Fund dollars to the East Tennessee Foundation’s Neighbor to Neighbor Fund. Together, CNS and the Foundation were able to quickly get much-needed resources to several nonprofit organizations in East Tennessee.

Keeping services available for children
In 2020, with COVID‑19 raging, the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley vowed to keep the doors open and provide critical childcare services to as many children and families as possible. Using a $2,500 grant from the East Tennessee Foundation through the CNS Community Investment Fund, matched by another $2,500 from ETF’s Youth Endowment, the Boys & Girls Clubs were able to extend service hours at four club locations in Knox, Blount, Loudon, and Anderson counties. This extension provided extended childcare services at club locations for children of essential workers who had to work during the COVID‑19 crisis.

The Boys & Girls Clubs also provided daily take‑home boxed meal service for youth at clubs located in Knoxville’s public housing developments. Many of the children lacked transportation to get their meals from schools and would have gone hungry without this service.

“Should I send my child back to school or opt for virtual learning?” Many parents found themselves asking this question in the past year. Boys & Girls Clubs understood parents’ concerns and collaborated with school systems to offer virtual learning pods at four local clubs.

“Providing this service has been good for students and their families in many ways,” said Bart McFadden, president and CEO. “Parents of club members have been able to continue to work, secure in the knowledge that their child was in a safe environment that allows them the opportunity for success.”

McFadden also noted that for students, coming to the club each day provided a sense of normalcy in a highly stressful time.