About 70 university researchers and government and industry experts from across the country, including Consolidated Nuclear Security employees, joined forces at the first ever National Energetic Materials Consortium hosted by Texas Tech University.
Pantex’s Christopher Young said, “There are a great many types of energetic materials and an array of applications. The explosives used by the Department of Energy are a specialized subset and have very stringent requirements in regards to their precision, timing, reproducibility, sensitivity and ageing characteristics.”
NEMC was formed by leading universities across the U.S. to combine technology and science within the academic community with the manufacturing resources of private industry. The aim is to bring critically needed innovations to the energetics sector of the national technological industrial base; NEMC is designed to allow for a rapid transition of new materials to a modernized industrial base.
“Acceptance and performance testing of explosives has been accomplished at Pantex for DOE since the 1960s,” Young said. “We’ve teamed up with Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory on this work. Current data acquisition strategies are continuously balanced against new technologies and ever evolving requirements.”
There was a strong showing from Pantex and Y-12 presenters.
Pantexan Patrick Goguen said, “It was a great opportunity to share ideas with some of the leaders in academia, government and industry related to advancing the frontiers of energetic materials. Rarely can you get such a diverse audience together to have such a focused interchange.”
CNS was one of the sponsors of the event, held in Lubbock, Texas, and is collaborating with Texas Tech University in research and development areas.
Consolidated Nuclear Security recently donated $10,000 to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital’s capital campaign. The CNS donation will go toward construction of a pre- or post-op room at Children’s new building, which is currently under construction.
On hand for the check presentation was Y-12’s Site Manager Bill Tindal and Children’s Hospital CEO Keith Goodwin.
The new 245,000-square-foot space, which is scheduled for completion later this year, will expand services for children with chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis and other special needs. Forty-four private Neonatal Intensive Care Unit rooms will provide the best care for the hospital’s smallest patients.
The new facility also will feature parking and enhanced family areas, including a rooftop garden.
East Tennessee Children’s Hospital is a not-for-profit, private, independent pediatric medical center and is the only Comprehensive Regional Pediatric Center in East Tennessee.
Educating people about the importance of nuclear science and inspiring youth to pursue their interests in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are vital components of the nuclear industry’s success. Recently, Y-12 engineers in the Career ONE program joined other nuclear professionals in the Oak Ridge area for the “Big Event,” Nuclear Science Week’s biggest celebration.
Established by the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History, Nuclear Science Week is a nationally recognized annual celebration promoting all aspects of nuclear science. The week includes events of all sizes throughout the country and a big event in one designated city. In fall 2015, the American Nuclear Society Oak Ridge/Knoxville section hosted the Big Event at the Knoxville Convention Center.
“Nuclear Science Week inspires others to pursue STEM careers. Over 70 kindergarten through sixth-grade students attended this event. These children were from a variety of schooling scenarios — homeschool, Montessori, private and public. Participation in this event helps remind me of the vital role our science-based skills play in delivering on Y-12’s mission,” said Jon Richey, a mechanical engineer.
The Big Event features numerous interactive nuclear science and engineering activities, including nuclear detection demonstrations, cloud chambers, electromagnets, atom assembly and other exercises designed to inspire students. Participants include students, educators, employers and locals in the community.
Josh Lucheon, a chemical engineer, said, “Nuclear Science Week was a great experience to give back to the community and share our knowledge of science and technology with grade-schoolers. The hands-on experiments and demonstrations hopefully sparked an interest for focusing their education on STEM as they grow up. Additionally, the opportunity was very gratifying for me because knowing that I helped a child learn something for the first time is a great feeling. I had a blast!”
Like Lucheon, structural engineer Faheem Ahmed spoke positively about the experience of engaging the students to help them understand basic science concepts. He also said the Big Event not only benefited the students but also the professionals from different companies who attended. “We had the opportunity to network with one another. The camaraderie with fellow engineers and the opportunity to help the students made it a wonderful experience; I hope to participate again next year.”
Richey, Lucheon and Ahmed participate in Career ONE, a job rotation program at Y-12 that allows new graduates to work in different engineering disciplines to help them discover the area that best suits their skills and interests.
John Latham also participated in the Big Event. At his STEM station, Latham worked with four to six children at a time, helping them understand magnetism by building a small electromagnet with a nail, copper wire and small battery.
“My favorite thing to hear from the kids was, ‘I wonder what would happen if…?’ I often replied, ‘Hmm…I’m not sure; why don’t you try it and see?’ I thought it was a success if they left with more questions than they came in with, in keeping with Einstein’s quote, ‘The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.’”
A few years ago, Y-12’s Protective Force changed from solid gray uniforms to their current digital camouflage gear. The old uniforms—some of which were actually new, with tags still on—were considered excess and likely headed toward a landfill. Around that same time, Y‑12 was collecting outerwear for its annual United Way Coat Drive. That gave Security Police Officer John Fellers an idea.
He recalled, “I knew we were asking for coat donations at the same time I saw our uniform coats headed to a landfill, so I asked the obvious question, ‘Can’t we donate these?’”
If only it were that simple. With no clear mechanism in place for donating unneeded government materials to community agencies, Y‑12 United Way chair Yvonne Bishop barely knew where to begin. “We had to make a lot of calls to try and learn how to get this done,” Bishop said. “We essentially had to invent the process as we went.”
After a lengthy series of delays, Bishop got the approval she needed from NNSA’s Albuquerque Complex. But the work was far from done. The coats would need to be surveyed to ensure they were free of any contaminants, then cleaned and sorted.
“Several of our Radiological Control technicians volunteered their own time to survey and green‑tag all 85 coats and warm liners, and other employees volunteered to remove the sewed‑on company patches,” Bishop said.
For cleaning and sorting, Y‑12 worked up a contract with the Michael Dunn Center, a Morgan County United Way agency that provides services and employment opportunities for people with developmental disabilities. The center’s employees washed the coats and sorted them by size.
Finally, the coats were ready for their final destination: the Volunteer Ministry Center in downtown Knoxville. For years, Y‑12’s coat drive has benefitted VMC’s efforts to end and prevent homelessness.
To make the donation of these unique coats even more special, the United Way committee worked with VMC to ensure the coats would go to homeless veterans. They were handed out shortly after Veteran’s Day.
“It took some time, but I’m thrilled we were able to make it happen,” Bishop said. “Our employees showed their true caring nature by volunteering their time for this effort, and we were able to give work to one United Way agency and really nice coats to another United Way agency.”
Fellers appreciated the United Way team’s willingness to stick with the effort despite the obstacles. “I’m really glad we continued to push to make this happen, even when many thought we should give up or just do something easier like donate money,” he said. “We helped make more than 80 homeless veterans a little more comfortable this winter.”
Making the world a safer place. That is the message Anne Harrington delivered to the East Tennessee Economic Council about NNSA’s role in nuclear nonproliferation.
Harrington, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation for the National Nuclear Security Administration, was the featured speaker at the annual ETEC awards luncheon in December at the Doubletree Hotel in Oak Ridge.
Prior to her speech, Harrington visited Y-12 and heard from project managers about their work in research reactor fuel development and highly enriched uranium minimization. Y-12 officials said she was very engaging and stated, “When I think uranium, I think Y-12 and Oak Ridge.”
Harrington, who has been at her post since 2010, was introduced at the luncheon by CNS President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Haynes. Haynes described her as a woman of great accomplishment and whose work is vital to the security of the country.
In her address, Harrington emphasized the importance of Y-12 and ORNL to the mission of nonproliferation. She pointed out that today the “threat is less about nuclear war,” and more about terrorists gaining access to materials to develop an “improvised weapon.”
Harrington said, “One aspect of our mission to prevent nuclear terrorism is eliminating highly enriched uranium in all civilian applications, including in research reactors and isotope production facilities.”
As an example, she pointed to heart scans – used by more than 50,000 people every day, which are made possible with the isotope Molybdenum 99, orMo99. She described how experts at Y-12 are involved in the transfer of low enriched uranium to Mo99 producers in Australia, Belgium, South Africa and the Netherlands as well as working with producers to convert production from HEU to low-level enriched uranium.
“While it may not always be easy to see the results of the work you and your neighbors are part of, know that without it, the world would be much more dangerous place without you,” she said.
Despite the success of such programs, Harrington warned that the work is not done. “Our mission is enduring,” she said. “There still exist vast stocks of HEU and other dangerous nuclear and radiological materials to address.”
Harrington’s hope for Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s work in nonproliferation is that it is a “partnership” for the long term. “Because that is certainly how we look at this relationship,” she said.
Harrington’s speech was part of an agenda that included the annual announcements of the Postma Young Professional Medal and the Muddy Boot Award, which recognizes individuals who, through their work, make Oak Ridge a better community.
This year’s Muddy Boot winners were Dan Hurst, CEO and founder of Strata-G and former legislator, businessman and current Deputy to the Governor Jim Henry.
Ann Weaver, facilities engineer at ORNL, was awarded the Postma Award, which recognizes outstanding young professionals.
Also recognized at the luncheon was Atomic Trades and Labor Council President Steve Jones, who is retiring from Y-12 after more than 40 years on the job. He is also ending his position with the ATLC after successfully negotiating a new 5-year contract. “It’s time to take a breather,” said Jones.