Pantex’s Mike Bromley of Projects Management recently received the 2017 American Society for Engineering Management Best Dissertation award at the organization’s International Annual Conference in Huntsville, Alabama.
The engineering and management professionals in the ASEM remarked that Bromley’s dissertation integrated analytical and managerial concerns with quality design and data collection, resulting in conclusions with application to many organizations.
The analysis of his dissertation, Economic Analysis Model for High Reliability Organizations, required significant input related to plant operations, facilities, personnel, costs, events, incidents, and accidents. Bromley said he appreciated the helpful input from many Pantex subject matter experts on meteorology, asbestos, cost estimating, safety analysis, process engineering, and high explosives. He also added that a non-employee could never have collected the required data, and it was a challenge to keep everything unclassified.
The newly designated NA-50 Excellence Awards recently were presented at Pantex by NNSA Associate Administrator for Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations James McConnell and at Y-12 by NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (Ret.). The award recognizes teams and individuals for outstanding accomplishments involving innovation, effectiveness, teamwork, overcoming adversity, and enabling future success.
CNS President and CEO Morgan Smith commended the honorees by saying, “The work we do is unique. We play a key role in the defense of the nation and the stability of the world. We face the challenge of meeting this important mission while working in facilities that are well past their intended life. Your work has helped tackle infrastructure issues that, if left unaddressed, could have exposed a risk to employees, the mission, or the environment.”
At Pantex and Y-12, the CNS Construction team was recognized for its operations with zero recordable injuries in fiscal year 2016, and the Development and Approval team for the Administrative Support Complex (Kirk McCutcheon at Pantex, Tom Smith at Y-12) was recognized for its work to develop the foundation and business case, as well as the extensive approval process.
One other Pantex award included the Outage Process Execution team, being recognized for the high-voltage distribution system outages conducted safely in support of the NNSA mission at Pantex.
Other Y-12 awards recognized: the team replacing some 700 fire suppression system sprinkler heads in Building 9204-2, the team that reroofed three Manhattan Project–era buildings as part of the Excess Facilities Disposition Program Roof Asset Management Program Risk Reduction project, the team that repaired the concrete beam in Building 9204-2, and the team that pursued multiple direct- and indirect-funded projects to reduce risks posed by excess facilities.
The skyline around Pantex continues to change as work at the Administrative Support Complex progresses. What was a field of milo this time last year is now an expansive building that grows closer and closer to completion with each passing day. Currently, the ASC is on schedule, and several areas of the building are nearing completion.
With the exterior nearly finished, the work indoors has begun to ramp up. For example, on the third floor of the west wing, drywall, painting, the break room, and bathrooms are complete and will serve as the mockup for the remaining break rooms and bathrooms for the rest of the building.
Major mechanical equipment, such as chillers, air handlers, plumbing lift station, and electrical transformers, have now been installed, and the domestic water line between the ASC and Pantex is now in operation. Not only is the skyline changing but traffic and roads are as well. The acceleration and de acceleration lanes on FM 2373 were completed recently and will provide relief for traffic entering and exiting the ASC area.
Upcoming milestones include the completion of the overhead power and the exterior envelope of the building, which is scheduled to take place this month. This month, crews will begin installing furniture, and the parking lot should be completed.
With the progress comes more people working at the ASC site. The number of workers has reached its peak.
Starting a new job can be anxiety producing. The situation can be nerve-racking unless you have a “coach” to support you.
POLO group during their Second Annual Hike and Bike at Palo Duro Canyon State Park.
For Trent Spivey, that coach was Courtney Waddell from Pantex Facility Engineering. Spivey spent considerable time awaiting his clearance in a trailer located just outside the protected area. Fortunately, Waddell stopped by regularly to ask how she could help make his transition into the company as easy as possible.
“Without Courtney, I would have known nothing about Pantex nine months after being hired,” Spivey said. “Coming to a place with more than 3,000 people that you don’t know, it helps to have a friend.”
Spivey learned about Pantex while attending West Texas A&M and as a student had the opportunity to take a site tour and meet with different managers. Once on board, he joined the Pantex Outreach and Leadership Organization, a group of early career professionals in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields, where Waddell volunteered to be his mentor.
“Having a mentor to introduce me to the people I’d be working with put me further ahead than those who came in blindly. That’s the number one success of the mentoring program,” Spivey said. “The mentorship really plugged me in and showed me what I can be within the company.”
Spivey now is on the POLO social subcommittee, and he looks forward to one day passing on what he knows to other new employees.
Chris Whitmer is one of the original organizers of POLO. Since its formation in 2014, POLO has grown to more than 100 members who participate in various networking, social, and community events. At a recent networking event, engineers toured the inside of a turbine at the Pantex wind farm, and at another, they heard an engineer talk about career paths, technical versus management, based on his own experience.
“POLO gives new hires, especially those coming from areas outside of Amarillo, the opportunity to meet other people, which gives them a reason to stay,” said Whitmer, who is from Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Barbara Vertefeuille from Safety Analysis Engineering, shares Whitmer’s viewpoint.
“If people have someone to go to—someone to ask questions and point them in the right direction—they are more likely to stay,” she said.
Vertefeuille has taught training for the last 20 years and has mentored those who are working toward their Documented Safety Analysis qualifications. She focuses on the specialized abilities they need for the work and helps them understand their role.
“People need someone to help them progress in their job and lives. I try to help them feel comfortable and confident in their own abilities,” she said.
My name is Kimberly Newton and I am excited to be writing you as a recent graduate from West Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology. I have the fortune to be chosen for one of Pantex summer internships, and shadow Wildlife Biologist Jim Ray. My main topic of interest is with reptiles and amphibians, but I have a passion for all wildlife including mammals, birds, fish, and invertebrates. I enjoy participating in volunteer work and outreach events, and I have even served as an officer for the WTAMU student chapter of the Wildlife Society. The majority of my experience is with small mammals and birds, but I also have some experience surveying for and marking yellow mud turtles, as well as copperheads and other various snakes of the eastern Texas region.
I am new to the team, however, I am not new to Pantex. Workers here have probably seen me around, wearing knee-high snake boots and a WT baseball cap. I have had the privilege of working for almost two years on a research project that measures the effects of wind turbines on avian and bat mortality rates. This project is all-inclusive, using bird plot counts during the summer and raptor (birds of prey) surveys during the winter to correlate different habitats to certain species. Our team of WTAMU students also perform searches to collect vouchers of the fatalities caused by the turbines, and we film the turbines at night to verify collision rates.
I am happy to say that I will still be around to help out my old teammates this summer, while increasing my own experience. I am involved with several research projects conducted or sponsored by the Pantex including a Texas Tech study on Swainson’s Hawks. Additionally, I will spend the summer mapping milkweed patches and counting larvae of monarch butterflies. Most of you know the importance of pollinating species, and how rapidly their populations are in decline; therefore, our efforts will help biologists gain insight into how the facility is used by this species. Some time and research will be devoted to horned lizard surveys, too. By capturing and PIT-tagging each individual horned lizard, we give that individual its own identification, then gathering information on survival and mortality rates, as well as population estimates based on the rate of recapture. I am also going to help with mapping colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs, which Pantex has performed annually for around 20 years!
Over the last few weeks, I have also participated in outreach events and learned how to band Purple Martins. The bands are like identification bracelets that give the bird both a State and Federal number. With a small group of Pantex employees and volunteers, we were able to attach small backpack like GPS and GEO data-loggers onto 31 birds. Next year, we’ll collect the data-loggers and be able to tell details of their migration flight to and from South America. The rest of days have been filled responding to nuisance calls, data entry, and attempting to catch grasshopper mice for an exhibit at the Amarillo Zoo.
I look forward to the challenge of waking up to something new each day. I have a lot to learn and some hard work ahead of me, but I am determined to make the most out of this opportunity. A special thanks goes to all the people that worked hard to open up an internship for me. I am excited for what this summer brings, and I can’t wait to share it with you. As I shadow and learn from Pantex’s own wildlife biologist, Jim Ray, my hope is that I can positively contribute to his cause by keeping Pantex a wildlife-friendly place.