Y-12 Blog

Posted: Friday, September 17, 2021 - 11:37am

LiveWise mural
This LiveWise mural brands the renovated fitness centers and makes the centers easily recognizable.

Some rejuvenating reps have the East and West LIFE Centers at Y-12 looking pretty buff.

The 11-year old structures have received makeovers. They now boast fresh paint, power washed and replaced trim, and new eye catching murals. Inside the West site, bathrooms sport new flooring, and ceiling tiles have been replaced.

“We’re excited to present the updated facilities,” said Consolidated Nuclear Security’s Health and Wellness Supervisor Karen Lacey. “They are a real value to employees. This helps set the tone for the importance we place on wellness and the health of our people, the most important resource.”

The centers have two different color schemes. East is cream with gray trim, while West is also cream but with red accents. They provide a backdrop for two of Lacey’s favorite additions, the LiveWise murals.

“Now it’s branded,” she said. “The logo makes them easily recognizable, easily distinguishable. People now know that it is part of the LiveWise Program.”

The renovations have been in the making for some time.

“It’s been 3 years trying to put this together,” Lacey said. “It started coming together in the spring, when we were able to get funding.”

The East and West centers are smaller offshoots of the larger fitness facility at Jack Case Center. They feature cardio and strength equipment, and change houses are next door. Like the JCC location, both are open 24 hours, 7 days a week. The centers have more than 4,000 usages each month.

In addition to the fitness equipment, there are LiveWise classes, such as outdoor boot camp sessions and virtual yoga. New to the roster is functional fitness training, which offers workouts in a small group setting. It focuses on exercises that train muscles to work together and prepares them for daily tasks by simulating common movements done at home, work, or in sports.

“I think this will attract some new people to the center,” Lacey said. “It’s a little less intimidating than taking a class with a lot of people.”

LiveWise also offers discounted (or free) registration to sports events, mobile mammography, and other health education programming.

“We’re as good as any gym in the community,” Lacey said, “and it’s always free. We’ve just saved employees 30 bucks a month.”

Members of the crew that made the upgrades possible
Members of the crew that made the upgrades possible gather at the East LIFE Center

Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 3:33pm

Thanks to the CNS General Workplace Improvement Program, the Pantex and Y-12 sites have received several upgrades.

Thanks to the CNS General Workplace Improvement Program, the Pantex and Y-12 sites have received several upgrades.

Investments have been made to revitalize aging infrastructure at both sites. The CNS General Workplace Improvement Program, which annually identifies, prioritizes, and executes projects in common areas to better quality of life for employees, has been working on several upgrades.

At Pantex, improvements underway range from new digs for guards to a fix that’s sure to be a bright spot.

The installation of a new guardhouse is set to be completed in September at the Building 16-19 portal entry.

“The existing one is somewhat small and cramped,” said Program Manager Todd Clark. “The new one is probably double the space. This will be a bigger building to more comfortably house personnel and equipment.”

Clark is also overseeing installation of windbreaks at the east and west entry portals. The aluminum alloy booths are heated and will offer protection from extreme wind and cold weather conditions at the posts. They will be used by guards when weather conditions warrant and morning portal activity is high, Clark said. Construction has already started at the west gate. Projected completion is September 30.

Solar lights have been placed at crosswalks and provide a brighter path for Pantexans traveling from an overflow parking lot.
Solar lights have been placed at crosswalks and provide a brighter path for Pantexans traveling from an overflow parking lot.

Another project makes the Building 12-70 parking lot brighter and safer. Solar lights have been installed by construction and maintenance crews at two crosswalks, which workers use to travel from an unlit overflow parking lot.

“Employees must cross the road at two points to access the plant,” Clark said. “The crossing is a potential safety hazard in low lighting conditions. The lights will create safer conditions and better visibility for employees.” Construction was completed in July.

While these projects focus on outdoor changes, other improvements at Pantex tackle interiors.

In one building, four restrooms are slated to be remodeled by September. The renovations include new floors, toilets, urinals, partitions, sinks, exhaust fans, fresh paint, and improved heating and cooling capabilities.

Program Manager Dustin Broom said, “Personnel will have adequate restrooms and a conducive work environment that improves quality of life.”

Also, office area modifications are in the works at another building. Among the changes are new flooring, paint, ceiling tiles and roof, electrical configuration, and a conference room system for improved meeting and videoconferencing capabilities.

“This refurbishment will improve employee habitability and provide adequate office space for personnel,” Broom said.

Y-12 has made an effort to create a better environment for employees as well.

“Workplace improvements are essential to the current and future of the Y-12 site,” said Program Manager Chad Kitts. “The Maintenance and Repair Program strives to complete General Workplace Improvement projects each year to improve quality of life for the Y-12 workforce.”

At Building 9212, outdated flooring in the office and cubicle areas has been replaced with overlay flooring; a base has been installed, which will facilitate easier cleaning and more sanitary conditions. “The effort updated the facility’s habitability to today’s standard,” Kitts said. Also, the walls in the mezzanine men’s restroom in Building 9204-02 received a paint job.

A crane replacement will deliver safer work conditions at Building 9215. The machine includes a hoist with a wireless remote control. This improvement removes workers from exposure to the molten salt bath. The planning phase is completed, and the execution phase is in progress. This project is slated to be finished by February 2022.

A roof access staircase at Y-12’s Building 9720-05 makes maintenance and surveillance safer for workers..
A roof access staircase at Y-12’s Building 9720-05 makes maintenance and surveillance safer for workers.

Steps in the right direction have been taken at Building 9720-05. A roof-access staircase was installed June 2020. It allows safe access to the roof and enables workers to efficiently complete surveillance and maintenance activities.

“The staircase provides maintenance personnel and other employees with safer and easier access to rooftop equipment,” said Program Manager Beverly Ward. “We have also eliminated the cost associated with erecting and removing temporary access and fall protection.”

Other projects are in various stages of planning and funding, so more workplace improvements will be implemented at Pantex and Y-12 in the months ahead.

Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 2:56pm

Program Management University graduates

In this photo from 2019, a group of Program Management University graduates gather to celebrate the end of their sessions. Now, most of the classes are virtual with in person sessions once travel restrictions are relaxed.

Managing an NNSA program involves a lot of moving parts. To be successful, program managers need to juggle a host of skills — planning, budgeting, evaluating, managing, and integrating multiple, complex project initiatives, priorities, and transitions, often over long periods of time. These are the skills Pantex and Y-12 program managers are mastering through Program Management University.

What is PMU?
Developed for interested Pantex, Y-12, and NNSA Production Office employees, PMU has held classes every year since 2018. As of early 2021, more than 200 staff members across a variety of site organizations have either completed or are attending the training. Upcoming sessions are scheduled for later this year and again in 2022.

PMU is a thoughtfully constructed and continuously evolving curriculum with several objectives that promote performance improvement in program management and critical interfaces, while informing and calibrating attendees to a set of clear expectations,” said David Young, NPO assistant manager for Programs and Projects.

What makes PMU unique?
The training enables consistent and uniform management of programs across Pantex and Y-12. Some programs, such as Stockpile Programs, also require new managers to have more technical qualifications tailored to managing specific requirements and interacting with design agencies.

“The goal of PMU is to achieve ‘best in class’ program management across the Nuclear Security Enterprise by providing NNSA with consistently superior management of all programs,” said Dan Linehan, senior director of Mission Baseline and Indirect and Technology Programs. “PMU enhances a program manager’s understanding of the broader NNSA mission and augments communications across Pantex and Y-12.”

What are the benefits of PMU training?
“I am new to the Program Integration organization and recently completed the PMU curriculum,” said Marina Yeary, director of Technology Development and Transfer for Program Integration. “The range of information covered is impressive, including NNSA directives, Pantex and Y-12 missions, Program Integration business processes, and program manager skills and qualifications. The training has enhanced my understanding of my role, the business, our customer, and our goals.”

PMU consists of three, one week sessions where the first session is an overview of the Nuclear Security Enterprise and NNSA’s programs. The second is a review of tools and techniques, and the third focuses on skills development.

The class content has been refined over time and now includes virtual classes. The second session will be held virtually while the first and third sessions will be held at Pantex and Y-12 to allow for in person interaction and tours once travel restrictions are relaxed.

“During each training session, quizzes are taken along with a final exam,” Linehan said. “Ongoing success is measured by how well our customer perceives each program’s performance. Finally, because program managers are more effective and efficient at managing their programs after attending PMU, we are seeing validated cost savings.”

Posted: Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 4:53pm

Congratulating Bechtel Global Scholars

Congratulations to the Bechtel Global Scholars with ties to Pantex, Y 12, and the Uranium Processing Facility.

The 2021 Bechtel Global Scholars program awarded a total of $75,000 in college funds to 25 students in six countries. The $3,000 scholarship goes to students in their first year of studies at an accredited college, university, vocational institute, or technical school.

Among the 25 students receiving the scholarship this year, five are a child of a Consolidated Nuclear Security or Uranium Processing Facility Project employee:

  • Jocelyn Espinoza, daughter of Pantex’s Andrew Espinoza
  • Olivia Horner, daughter of Pantex’s Robbie White
  • Nathan Nelson, son of UPF’s Jeanne Grozdanich Nelson
  • Alexandria Perry, daughter of Y 12’s Douglas Perry
  • Oviya Shanmugam, daughter of UPF’s Nambi Shanmugam

Oviya Shanmugam thanked Bechtel for the opportunity. “I consider it a great honor to have been chosen as a recipient of this scholarship,” she said.

Her father, Nambi Shanmugam, said, “I appreciate Bechtel for identifying, recognizing, and rewarding young achievers on their first step toward higher education. It is especially encouraging after overcoming a very challenging last year.”

Parent Robbie White also expressed his appreciation to Bechtel. “We feel honored for the selection and thankful for the aid during this transition year as our youngest daughter leaves the nest,” he said.

Jocelyn Espinoza said the scholarship will help further her education. “I am very excited to have been selected for this award, and it will go a long way to help me achieve my goals,” she said.

Bechtel Group Foundation funds the scholarship, which is managed by Scholarship America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging global educational achievement. This year, 160 students from eight countries applied for the scholarship. Scholarship America reviewed each application before the final selection.

The opportunity is open to students in all fields of study, with preference given to those pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math. Bechtel scholarships are awarded each year for full-time study at an accredited institution of the student’s choice. However, current undergraduates are not eligible for the program.

Since its start in 2001, the Bechtel Global Scholars program has awarded $1.3 million in college funding to 486 students.

Quotes from the scholars
Jocelyn Espinoza: “I am very excited to have been selected for this award, and it will go a long way to help me achieve my goals.”

Olivia Horner: “I’m very thankful for this investment in my future. I am very thankful for the recognition of my hard work throughout high school. I am incredibly excited to pursue my business degree at Texas A&M University!”

Nathan Nelson: “My family and I are both grateful to be considered and awarded this scholastic opportunity to help further my education. Thank you very much!”

Alexandria Perry: “It is an honor to be chosen to represent my high school and my family in accepting this generous scholarship. I feel a remarkable amount of support and personal enthusiasm as I begin my collegiate journey, and I am very thankful!”

Oviya Shanmugam: “I am thankful to Bechtel for the opportunity and consider it a great honor to have been chosen as a recipient of this scholarship. This award will be a great addition to support my college tuition.”

Posted: Wednesday, September 15, 2021 - 4:47pm

CNS Internship Program

Through online training and interacting with Craig Marianno, deputy director of the Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives at Texas A&M, 28 interns received a nuclear security certificate this summer.

This year’s interns were offered an experience that not only broadened their awareness of what we do but also gave them something unique for their resumes.

Consolidated Nuclear Security coordinated a nuclear security certificate program through Texas A&M University and offered the training for free to interns with support from the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program.

A total of 28 interns — 7 from Pantex and 21 from Y-12 — benefitted from online training and interaction with Craig Marianno, deputy director of the Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives at Texas A&M. He recently closed out the program with an in person session at Pantex and a virtual session for Y 12 interns.

Ashley Stowe, CNS university relations program manager, said the program gives interns a leg up in their fields of study.

“The nuclear security certificate program provides interns with an excellent overview of the various aspects of nuclear security that Y-12, Pantex, and the Nuclear Security Enterprise consider every day,” he said. “This broad perspective of nuclear security topics combined with the interns’ specific summer projects gives them a unique advantage in their careers.”

Stowe said that while more than half the interns who participated were MSIPP students, all CNS interns were eligible to partake in this professional development opportunity.

In the paragraphs that follow, interns share why they participated.

“I chose to participate in the program because I knew certifications in any field are useful and can further my career. My interest in Y-12 is another reason why I decided to obtain the certificate, as I can see myself working here for some time! I have gained a new awareness from the program. It taught me different things to be aware of that I can use on a daily basis. It was a great experience overall, even though the modules were long.” — Noah Thomas, Y-12

“I really wanted to learn more about the fundamental and essential elements that make up a national nuclear security program, so participation in this program was the perfect opportunity to gain a better understanding of who we are and what we do.

“It has definitely increased my awareness of how important securing nuclear and radioactive material of all types is, whether it’s in use, storage, or transport. The emergence of cyberthreats and other new technologies that might be used in attacks has also increased understanding of the need for nuclear security. We all have a part in supporting the mission, and I think that’s absolutely incredible.” — Marena Soulet Vargas, Y-12

“I chose to participate in the program because I enjoy learning new things, and I believe it lines up well with my field of study. Eventually, I want to end up in cybersecurity at Pantex, so having knowledge of nuclear security is a great first step.

The program is great for helping to understand the importance of nuclear security and safeguards and their relationship to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]. It also goes over a variety of threats that pressure the facilities from the outside and how to mitigate or ward off their efforts.” — Matthew Smith, Pantex

“I decided to participate in the certificate program to expand my knowledge of nuclear related material.

“The program has allowed me to see from a different perspective how beneficial nuclear material can be to humanity by creating clean energy and effective deterrents. The program also made me more aware of the drawbacks of nuclear technology if it gets in the wrong hands or is improperly used. I have learned how nuclear technology originated, which nations possess such capabilities, and the kinds of regulations that must be met for a state to possess it. The program has really helped me to understand what we do here at CNS and how nuclear technology has contributed to worldwide peace and our freedom.” — Chris Freire, Pantex

“I have had the opportunity over the past 2 years to learn about nuclear safety in our country. By taking this course, I am able to showcase what I have learned by being rewarded with a certificate that shows just a small piece of the dedication that I have to this field.

“This program has given me a chance to apply myself further in my internship by reinforcing my daytime working hours with nighttime study hours that push me to have a greater focus and understanding of the mission I have here as an employee, even if my employment is just seasonal.” — Matthew Fleck, Y-12

“I chose to participate in the certificate program because of the opportunity to gain new knowledge and understanding. Nuclear security is very important, and I wanted to take advantage of this program to broaden my awareness and comprehension of this topic.

“After completing the program, I now understand nuclear security in a more detailed way. I believe the program has helped me to develop new perspectives that will aid in my contribution to the overall mission.” — Cason Worthy, Y-12