Strengthening a solid partnership

Posted: January 23, 2015 - 12:58pm

The December managers and supervisors meeting featured CNS and the University of Tennessee signing a new Memorandum of Understanding on each organization’s commitment to an expanded partnership. On Dec. 18, Jim Haynes, CNS president and chief executive officer, and UT Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek signed the MOU during a ceremony at the Y‑12 New Hope Center. In addition to Y‑12 managers and supervisors, several UT professors and Y‑12 employees who are alumni were in attendance.

“I am proud to have been a part of both of these institutions,” Carolyn Fogelman of Y‑12 Engineering said. “This is an opportunity for those in academia to experience the challenges faced by industry in today’s environment. Y‑12 can benefit from the fresh ideas that emanate from those in a less constrained environment.”

Attendee Dr. Joe Stainback sees the MOU from a unique perspective. He’s a former Y‑12 employee and now a professor at UT. “Y‑12 became like a family. Now in my second career, I get to come back to Y‑12 and help my colleagues meet the challenges they face.”

UT’s Center for Industrial Services and Institute for Nuclear Security are two programs that tie to Y‑12’s mission and are especially helpful as the Uranium Processing Facility continues to develop. “As Y‑12 grows into new facilities like UPF, some challenges can’t be mastered without reaching out. Reaching out to academia helps Y‑12 get information from other resources, professors and students, and offers the opportunity to provide Y‑12’s unique capabilities to other domestic and international organizations,” Stainback said.

Prior to the signing, attendees could visit several displays about joint CNS and UT projects. One such project is the Visual Asset Library, or VAL, that is under way between Communications Services and UT’s School of Information Sciences. Multimedia’s Natalie Hansen is the project lead.

“The partnership benefited me by providing me with real world experience; it is one thing to understand concepts, practices and theory, but applying those ideas to a real world problem is completely different,” Hansen said. “The best part is I got to build a new digital library completely from scratch, which is something not many digital archivists, let alone graduate students, get to do!”

Dr. Suzie Allard is Hansen’s UT contact. “The partnership has provided opportunities for graduate students to participate in situations that allow them firsthand experience. Students are learning how information professionals can serve the mission of protecting the  U.S. These opportunities are helping to develop the information work force in areas related to science visual assets, information management and science data.”

Some feel the partnership will help entice future members of Y‑12’s work force. UT alum Donna Bennett of Y‑12 Engineering said, “Nurturing the relationship between Y‑12 and UT students is a great way to encourage graduating students to consider working at Y‑12. Due to our aging facilities and restrictive security protocols, Y‑12 may not appear to be the most glamorous place to work. Providing opportunities for students to learn firsthand about the varied and challenging employment opportunities at Y‑12 can go a long way toward cultivating our future work force.”

One thing for sure is the future between Y-12 and UT is bright. Hansen said, “Each group is bringing different perspectives and ideas to the table, and in my experience, this leads to creative solutions to problems.”

Fogelman agreed. “Solutions to real world problems require the depth of understanding of the problems, which is the purview of the employees, and the freedom to imagine, explore, and create, which is the purpose of university faculty and students. This partnership brings it all together.”