At the Y-12 National Nuclear Security Complex’s Technology Transfer awards ceremony held in May, Consolidated Nuclear Security introduced the League of Ingenuity, a new merit-based society to recognize Y-12 and Pantex employees who have notable technical and innovative accomplishments.
CNS manages and operates Y-12 and the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, for the National Nuclear Security Administration.
“The nation benefits when Pantex and Y-12 engage in technology transfer because the technologies we develop in support of our mission requirements often have broader utility and impact,” said Tom Berg, CNS director of Technology Development and Transfer Programs.
The League of Ingenuity acknowledges employees who have developed mission-advancing technologies and solutions that benefit not only CNS and other government organizations but also private industry and taxpayers.
“Our team developed the society to encourage and motivate employees to pursue research and development efforts that may leverage partnerships with academia and industry partners, enhancing both Y-12’s and Pantex’s profiles as centers of scientific excellence,” Berg said.
Meet Y-12’s inaugural inductees into the League: Lee Bzorgi, Rusty Hallman, Ed Ripley, and Ashley Stowe. Pantex innovators will be recognized at a separate event.
Research interests: Designing and fabrication
Why I chose a career in science: As a child, I had the best toys in the neighborhood because I was building them myself. By the time I was 10 years old, I had my first design published in an engineering magazine. Getting into engineering and science was an easy decision for me.
- R&D 100 Award (Rapid Deployment Shelter System, 2007)
- 8 patents since 2006
- 39 invention disclosures at Y-12
- CNS Government Use Award winner in 2005, 2007, and 2009
- Featured in Popular Science magazine, “The DOE’s Gadget Guru” (2003)
- Lead inventor for technologies that have resulted in multiple commercial licenses
- Won Innovation Valley Technology Council’s Pathfinder Research Entrepreneur of the Year award, 2010
Dr. Rusty Hallman
Research interests: Precise blending of gases and vapors to make calibration standards for the plant. These efforts have led me to the automation of corrosion studies using robotics and the integration of analytical equipment to provide insight into the complex behavior of these chemical systems.
Why I chose a career in science: I seek out problems others do not want to address. These things intrigue me. Science and engineering are just tools or systems to understand how and why things work the way they work.
- 9 patents since 2004
- 32 invention disclosures
- Lead inventor on a multi-year Funds-In Cooperative Research and Development Agreement
- Respected within industry for research and development efforts in moisture-blending technologies and work in mitigating tin whisker growth within the electronics industry
Research interests: Microwave casting, uranium metallurgy
Why I chose a career in science: I loved science as a child, and for the last 29 years, I have made a living using subtle nuances in the sciences to accomplish unexpected things. I call it “exploiting the loopholes in the laws of physics.”
- 27 patents and 5 in process
- 72 invention disclosures
- Completed the Sandia National Labs Weapons Intern Program
- Guest on Penn and Teller “Fool Us” television program and one of 5 close-up competitors to represent the U.S. at the world championships of magic in Busan, Korea, in 2018
- Received the Society of American Magicians “Creativity Award” in 2019
Dr. Ashley Stowe
Research interests: Space chemistry, hydrogen fuel materials, nuclear nonproliferation, radiation detection (neutron imaging technologies)
Why I chose a career in science: I learned a passion for science and discovery from my high school chemistry teacher, Dr. Greg Rushton. He showed my class the power of science and then threw us the keys to the chemical cabinet and said, “Try a few things!” A few things blew up along the way, some even on purpose, but I discovered the joy of creating new things.
- R&D 100 Award (LISe crystals, 2013)
- 15 patents and 1 in process
- 25 invention disclosures
- Y-12 Technology Fellow 2013–2015
- Authored more than 61 articles in peer-reviewed publications
- Joint Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Y-12’s Infrastructure group developed a Proactive Safety Team in 2015, but they’ve never quit working to improve the program that uses a proactive approach to predict and mitigate accidents and incidents before they occur.
As Infrastructure’s Linda Fiore explained, “To quote William Blake, ‘Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but foresight is better, especially when it comes to saving lives.’”
The team has several components — Floor-Up Safety, High-Hazard Senior Review Board, Injury Review Board, PST Tool and Clothing Committee, Vendor Days, and Voice From the Floor.
Fiore said the Voice From the Floor aspect has resulted in several successful examples demonstrating the intent of the Proactive Safety Team.
“The PST process is about changing the culture from a top-down approach to safety to a bottom-up for leadership to support and encourage,” she said. “Listening to those who do the work every day is crucial because they are the ones with hands on and eyes on experience with so many places at the site.”
Each Infrastructure crew brings five Floor-Up Safety topics each week — one for each day of the week with an extra to “keep in the bank.” Four of the topics are work-related, and one is home-related. These topics are discussed, and a Y-12 Infrastructure Safety Flash can be generated for quick dissemination of critical safety information.
“We’ve had so many successes through the Proactive Safety Team,” Fiore said. “We keep monthly highlight reports that give us a tremendous source of data to draw from and build on, and we are more than willing to share this data. We also open our Vendor Days, where outside companies bring in and demonstrate safety equipment, to all Y-12 organizations.”
Congratulations to Alma Carter, this year’s Y-12 winner of the Jackie Kelly Award for Administrative Excellence. She’s supported Y-12’s Sustainability and Stewardship group since 2009.
“I absolutely love working with my group,” Carter said. “It brings me so much joy and satisfaction to be able to help and take care of them. I order supplies, take care of their travel arrangements, really whatever they need. I love the people I work with.”
And Carter’s group feels the same about her.
“An internal driver for Alma’s dedication and commitment to the Sustainability and Stewardship organization is her concern and caring for every employee within S&S and within Y-12,” said Jan Jackson, Carter’s manager.
“With her background as a Navy retiree and longtime Y-12 employee, she sees the importance of the work the S&S program performs in support of the Y-12 mission,” Jackson noted. “Alma is committed to ensuring that S&S and Y-12 in general ‘sparkles’ from the inside out by doing the right thing and always thinking ahead and planning to prevent issues.”
CNS established this award in 2017 in honor of Y-12’s Jackie Kelly, who met every challenge head on, including the cancer that ultimately took her life. Nominees are evaluated on performance in five categories: dedication, conscientiousness, caring, can do attitude, and capability.
When Oak Ridge’s Friendship Bell Pavilion project was initiated, one of the proposed attractions to the site was a karesansui (pronounced car uh san swee) garden. The garden now is located in Oak Ridge at the International Friendship Bell Peace Pavilion in A.K. Bissell Park.
Karesansui gardens, a centuries-old Japanese tradition, feature sand or fine gravel raked in patterns around carefully placed boulders and stones, peaceful sites encouraging viewers to spend time in contemplation.
Pat Postma, co-chair of the International Friendship Bell Citizens Advisory Committee, created the gravel area for the garden, but she needed rakes for the volunteers to use maintaining the garden.
She asked Duane Starr, an Oak Ridge National Laboratory retiree, to design a rake, but his recommendation for the fabrication shouldn’t surprise anyone at Y-12.
“Duane came up with the idea of using stainless steel for the rake blades, thinking about durability and precision,” Postma said. Starr suggested contacting Y-12 to see if someone there could create the blades for the rakes, and Postma said CNS readily agreed.
With some 38 volunteers practiced in the art of Karesansui gardens, Postma said the three rakes provided by CNS are greatly appreciated. A smaller, second garden is being created for anyone from the community to practice raking the garden.
The Mechanical Electrical Building (MEB) at the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) is fully enclosed and stands tall as a sign of completion amongst ongoing work areas surrounding the building. Not only was it the first main building to go vertical at UPF, it is now the first building fully enclosed and moving to the next stage of progress, which includes installation of commodities and equipment.
The shell, which includes all siding, doors, roof, and louvers, was constructed in just 310 calendar days, and is an example of why a multiple-building complex approach was used at UPF. It allows each facility to be constructed to the safety and security requirements appropriate to each building’s function. The MEB will house most of the utility equipment required for the UPF process facilities, so it was constructed to commercial standards, providing cost savings in construction and equipment installation.
“The MEB ‘in the dry’ milestone is a major accomplishment for the UPF project team,” said MEB Area Manager Misty Lawrence. “This milestone was achieved by the hard work and long hours of many individuals working together to make it possible. As we have developed lessons learned for the other UPF subprojects, we have also shown what a team can accomplish when we have a goal and work collaboratively to make it a reality.”
The next steps for MEB will be “kitting out” the building. It will be a heavy organization effort in order to complete miscellaneous steel installation; electrical installation; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning placement; fire protection; fire proofing and bulk commodity installations (i.e., spools, hangers, and valves).