Y‑12 Mission Engineering interns share information.
In a typical April, interns would be finalizing travel and living arrangements for their anticipated summer internships. But in 2020, COVID-19 created pandemonium, and many interns across the country were disappointed when many companies canceled internships. CNS Human Resources and the executive leadership team wanted to make CNS's program happen, so HR enlisted help from multiple organizations, including Safeguards, Security, and Emergency Services; Communications; Performance Excellence, and Information Solutions and Services.
Cristy Landrum, intern program lead, and Recruiting & Placement’s Amy Moran stepped into motion.
“We worked with CNS leadership to establish guidelines and processes on how to proceed with our original start date of June 1,” Landrum said. “We wanted to allow time to onboard remotely and to telework until site conditions allowed for safe work on site.”
CNS President and Chief Executive Officer Michelle Reichert said, “Interns are our future workforce. We wanted to offer them the experience they had signed up for and accepted, and our team went to work to make it happen. We knew we might not be able to offer a 100% in person internship, but we knew we had the resources, creativity, and tenacity to make it the best it could be, considering the circumstances. The result allowed students to see how CNS thinks outside the box to make the undoable doable.”
The teamwork involved with this year’s program led to success.
Landrum said, “Nothing stops the CNS team from working towards the mission. We don’t buckle under pressure, and we don’t throw in the towel when times get tough. We strive for excellence, and we work together to quickly find ways to meet our goals.”
Interns leave contributions
As Pantexans and Y-12ers for the summer, the 2020 interns made valuable contributions to the CNS mission in the Development, Engineering, Operations, Security, Supply Chain Management, and Information Solutions and Services Departments. Before they left, 19 interns were even offered an opportunity to continue their CNS careers as full-time employees.
Despite changes brought by COVID-19, CNS honored its commitment to providing educational development opportunities for the 40 students this summer as a part of the CNS Internship Program. In a modified program, the 16 interns at Pantex and 24 interns at Y-12 experienced the sites, virtually and in-person.
Pantex’s Paul Mendez and Mike Hight from Personnel Security were just two who assisted in finding the solution. The team had a quick turnaround time, because the final decision to go virtual was made less than a month before the start date.
“We had some obstacles,” Mendez said. “There was short notice for almost every aspect from processing Clearance Action Requests to identification verification. Personnel Security assisted with reviewing and processing Clearance Action Requests, and we provided the required briefing and ensured appropriate access was set up.”
Hight said, “The hardest part was the short notice to process interns, and the need to stay flexible in processing them - it took some specialized effort to determine their status and work them in with all the other onboarding actions we conduct.”
Next was making a traditional program a virtual one. Landrum said, “This was my first year as the lead over the internship program, so implementing the program was a challenge, then when you throw in COVID-19, it made it even more challenging. I knew I needed to get others on board.”
That’s when Jessica Dawes and Alex Moore came into play and helped build a knowledge library, which became a partnership with others within the Nuclear Security Enterprise.
“The NSE Internship Library was established to allow interns joining the NSE in 2020 to have content about the sites and the NNSA mission,” Moore said.
Dawes added, “The library is composed of virtual content to assist interns in developing a better understanding of roles and responsibilities of the organizations within the NNSA, as well as illustrate how integrated the organizations are in order to achieve the NNSA mission.”
Currently, the knowledge library is with NNSA Public Affairs to be published online. “The NSE workforce team, made up of employees from various NSE organizations, emailed the material to their sites’ interns,” Moran said. “We paired the material, which consisted of a lot of website links, with a planned event - the NSE Virtual Intern Panel. The event was a success with seven panelists from across the enterprise and 177 participants (interns) all learning about the work across the NSE and how they can contribute to our mission.”
Last, but not least, was determining how to share on the job training, so Landrum and Moran asked Performance Excellence’s Training Compliance & Delivery to join the effort. Within a few weeks, the team had General Employee Training ready to teach virtually through WebEx. Once required training was completed, Christine Shawhan (Six Sigma) and others from PE developed a schedule for Enrichment Series classes that the interns attended virtually.
“We offered information on how to write a business case, how to facilitate a virtual meeting, and shared various Lean Six Sigma tools,” Shawhan said. “Amy and Cristy then recommended having the CNS Affinity Groups share with the interns, so they could learn about future possibilities. Teamwork makes the dream work. Seems silly to say, but it really does!”
So at the end of the 10 week internship, the 40 interns for 2020 left with a robust amount of information from a program that wasn’t sure it would even happen.
“It really ended as a win-win project,” Moran said. “One intern told me before she left Pantex that the lessons taught in the [Enrichment Series] meetings would not have come up in a typical college education. She said she was able to learn how to be a competent professional before graduating with her degree.”
Landrum said, “Change is inevitable, but we will support the mission. You simply adapt and react. By continuing the internship program, it taught the students that turmoil doesn’t stop CNS from working towards supporting the mission.”
A Y-12 Mission Engineering intern works in a lab during his time at Y‑12.
Y-12 Apprenticeship Program 2020 graduates present their diplomas. From left: Jacob Scarborough, electrician; Christopher Drinnon, pipefitter; Brandon Muir, pipefitter; and Dustin Wilson, electrician.
After 13 years as a Y-12 laborer, Christopher Drinnon acted on his father’s advice: “You should get in a trade.” Now a recent pipefitter apprentice graduate, Drinnon graduated on October 6 from the Y-12 Apprenticeship Program alongside three skilled journeymen, one pipefitter and two electricians.
Since 2008, Y-12 has celebrated 97 graduates and eight graduation ceremonies in the program. Before graduation, each apprentice is trained to union specifications for journeymen level classification upon completion of the program. In addition to qualifications, apprentices learn from experiential training opportunities and work three month rotations in different workshops throughout Y-12. Through these experiences, apprentices gain valuable knowledge in their field and on site.
“The Apprenticeship Program has positioned Y-12 for long term mission support, at a time when skilled craft workers are in high demand,” said Will Farmer of Y-12 Infrastructure. “Our program is a great way to transfer knowledge from highly skilled workers to the new workforce and is our guarantee that we will be able to meet our future production goals,” he continued.
A combined partnership between CNS and the Atomic Trades and Labor Council, the Apprenticeship Program is registered with the Department of Labor as well as the Veterans Administration. Y-12’s Joint Apprenticeship and Training Committee is also involved to guarantee the welfare of the program by meeting each month to address various topics on how to grow and assist the program.
Apprentice supervisor and JATC member Zach Yost said, “Our committee exists to ensure that we’re nurturing unsurpassed talent for our program. Today, it’s safe to say that we’ve found that here with our 2020 class.”
The graduates also were recognized for not only their hard work but also the sacrifices that were made by the apprentices and their families.
“The main lesson was not to give up,” said Brandon Muir, Y-12 pipefitter. “The experience was an adjustment; adding 3.5 hour classes, two nights per week on top of a 10 hour day was challenging.
That’s not counting my commute and having a new baby, but the on-the-job training made it worth it.”
In honoring the graduates, Y-12 Site Manager Gene Sievers emphasized the significance the skilled trades have on the mission and the development of the men and women who follow in their footsteps.
“Being skilled in the art is extremely important,” he said. “Your knowledge and capabilities are foundational for Y-12’s enduring mission, our national security, and the future generation of skilled trades.”
With milestones met, Y-12’s four new journeymen will progress to a new chapter making their impact to on site operations and continuing the legacy and strength of our workforce.
“This is a great accomplishment for you, CNS, and our union. This is something that can never be taken from you and will provide you a path to a career that you can be proud of,” said ATLC President Mike Thompson. “I know and appreciate the sacrifices you have made to achieve this graduation. But it doesn’t end here. You will continue to learn and become more proficient in your skills. The responsibility you face couldn’t be more important. You are the ones who will take our place and carry on the proud tradition of being some of the most skilled tradesmen in the world.”
Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (CNS) is demonstrating a continued commitment to business partnership, even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of ongoing outreach to business owners and potential vendors, CNS representatives are continuing their Partners in Excellence (PIE) event series virtually.
CNS began the PIE event series in April 2018 because the government contract solicitation process is sometimes considered complex or cumbersome for businesses, particularly newcomers and small businesses.
The latest round of online PIE workshops and forums allow potential business partners to attend while adhering to local social distancing guidelines in Texas, Tennessee, and across the country. PIE workshops are targeted based on agenda content, but larger events like the recent August PIE forum are open to a broader audience of business owners.
“Our goal is to increase the capacity and capability of our contractor base to support our small project execution,” said Cindy Morgan, director of CNS Supply Chain Business Management. “In our world, small projects are defined as $50 million or less.”
While CNS has a focus on modernizing the aging infrastructure of Pantex and Y-12, the company doesn’t only need construction contractors.
“We purchase a variety of goods and services from small and large businesses, and we need vendors for everything from general office supplies to information technology and staff augmentation,” said Randy Crawford, Pantex Small Business Program Manager.
The PIE events are a chance for CNS leaders to offer attendees a slice of knowledge about successfully doing business with Pantex and Y-12, break down the requirements, and share upcoming opportunities. During the August 29 PIE event, Bill Tindal, the CNS chief operating officer, provided an overview of the Pantex and Y-12 site histories and explained why the company uses subcontractors as partners.
There’s also a chance to network with fellow business owners to encourage partnerships. “Sometimes a small business is not able to bond for a large job, but they have the expertise and skills that a larger business does not,” said Morgan. “Providing a chance to network encourages those businesses to work together and submit a joint bid.”
Each year, CNS awards over $1 billon in subcontracts to businesses that help accomplish specialized tasks in support of its vital national security mission.
MEDIC’s newest bus was used for September’s mobile blood drive events at Y-12.
More Y-12 employees rolled up their sleeves in September to meet the growing need for blood donations in East Tennessee.
During a typical month, @ MEDIC Regional Blood Center holds one donation event at Y-12 and collects about 70 units of blood. In September, MEDIC requested a second event due to a higher demand for blood in the region. Thanks to Y-12ers generously giving the Gift of Life, MEDIC collected 131 units during the month’s two donation events, which were held in MEDIC buses parked outside New Hope Center. #CNSCares #GiveBlood
Congratulations to Kevin Shipp of Y-12 Engineering; he was awarded the 2020 Sandia National Laboratories Weapon Intern Program Leadership Award. He is a graduate of the 2020 program, which was the 25th class.
This award recognizes individuals who demonstrate exceptional leadership in all facets of the program, including academic performance, project leadership and team management performance, professional development, and peer assessment.
“The Sandia National Laboratories Weapon Intern Program was an incredible experience,” Shipp said. “We were given access to resources and a wealth of knowledge that are unparalleled in the Nuclear Security Enterprise. It was also a privilege to participate in the program with my classmates who are top notch people from around the NSE and DOD. So, I was humbled and honored to be selected for the leadership award by them.”
Shipp also was chosen to speak at the WIP graduation ceremony on behalf on the class. He has made exceptional impressions on his peers as well as the WIP staff, bringing great credit upon himself, CNS, and the NSE.