Pantex Blog

Pantex sponsors Together We Can Food Drive

Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2021 - 15:29

Pantex is sponsoring the Together We Can Food Drive

For the 18th year, Pantex is sponsoring the Together We Can Food Drive held by the High Plains Food Bank with a $5,000 donation this year.

COVID-19 and its impacts have affected so many in our community, and many of neighbors here in the Texas Panhandle who were already struggling are now in crisis. The High Plains Food Bank is there to help and Pantex wanted to show its commitment to our community through this annual event.

“Pantex has been a longtime supporter of High Plains Food Bank, and we are proud to support them in the fight against hunger,” Acting Pantex Site Manager Jeff Yarbrough said. “My fellow Pantexans and I are passionate about making a difference in this community.”

The Together We Can drive runs December 6-10 at Market Street United in Amarillo, Texas. Pantex was the sponsor for Wednesday’s food drive and has employees on site volunteering with the event.

“We know that this $5,000 will help alleviate hunger in the Texas Panhandle, and we are proud to be a Together We Can Ambassador Sponsor,” Yarbrough said.

Pantex is sponsoring the Together We Can Food Drive
Pantex is sponsoring the Together We Can Food Drive

Data centers launch a new generation of power

Posted: Wednesday, December 8, 2021 - 11:47

IT Systems administrators John Neusch (right) and Les Spaulding troubleshoot a new power distribution system in Pantex’s current data center
IT Systems administrators John Neusch (right) and Les Spaulding troubleshoot a new power distribution system in Pantex’s current data center.

If you think of our systems, applications, or network as living and breathing beings, the data center is the brain that essentially regulates every function. As a centralized facility tasked with housing and maintaining multiple server racks that store, process, and backup our electronic information, our data centers are vital to daily operations at Pantex and Y-12.

The Pantex and Y-12 Data Center Consolidation and Modernization projects are progressively coming to fruition, enhancing the monitoring, power reliability, and cooling infrastructure of our IT systems at both sites. At Y-12, Information Solutions and Services continues to decommission legacy hardware and move it into its new home. Meanwhile, the Power Upgrade Project at the Pantex data center continues to implement additional levels of redundancy and alternate power sources.

“Our teams support more than 650 network devices and 4,000 servers at Pantex and Y-12; thus, having a solid infrastructure at each site that hosts and backs up these systems brings us a step closer to meeting a modern industry standard. This is a major accomplishment,” said Joe Harris, Consolidated Nuclear Security’s chief information officer.

With modernization as a primary focus, once complete, both sites will have fully upgraded to 10 gigabytes worth of internet capacity due to the centers’ bandwidth. As a significant boost to our sites’ internet capacity, this will improve our virtual video and audio quality, while decreasing the time to connect to the internet or perform enterprise backups between the sites.

“Teams from across IS&S, Cybersecurity, Construction, and Power Operations have all contributed to the centers’ current and future success for our mission,” said Harris. “This is a triple play with power enhancements, modernization of our cooling of equipment, and increased capacity and resilience in our network connections. We look forward to how this advancement in our infrastructure will continue to grow to serve our people and technology.”

Inside of each data center are multiple racks of servers that store information. As you can imagine, stacks of electrical equipment can overheat if not managed carefully; therefore, in preventing any deficiencies, both centers will have a cool air containment design from the floor of each server room. Currently installed at Y-12, the design separates the cold airflow from the exhaust of the hot and active electrical equipment and ultimately creates a consistent stream of cold airflow throughout the centers that prevents equipment from overheating and shutting down.

“IT equipment creates a lot of heat, which has to be cooled to maintain the equipment’s required temperatures,” said Matt Beattie, who manages both Pantex’s and Y-12’s data centers. “By using an air containment design, we’re able to evenly manage the centers’ temperatures, protect our equipment from overheating, and install more IT equipment in each server rack to make efficient use of our space.”

Adding to the efficiency of the project, the data centers will also be accompanied by a Data Center Infrastructure Management tool, or DCIM. The tool will provide IS&S with a 3-D view of each data center and enable operators to monitor and manage the centers’ equipment, systems, space, power, cooling, and even alert systems administrators of any operational problems after hours.

“From breaking ground to now, both data centers have been nothing short of a collective effort, but we’re not finished yet,” Harris said. “We still have more to do as we continue to move capabilities while maintaining services so as not to impact the site mission and site deliverables.”

Honoring our veterans

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2021 - 14:36

Veterans Day is when we remember the sacrifices and service of our veterans past and present. We are proud of the large number of veterans who choose to continue their service to our country by working at Pantex and Y-12.

Every veteran has their own story, and oftentimes, transitioning from military to civilian life can be a challenge. Two female veterans shared their journeys, and though each has a unique story, both share similar themes throughout their lives—service above self, tenacity, and dedication to excellence.

Lisa Torres, Pantex

As summer fades and autumn arrives, some like to listen to the crackle of a fire, but others, like Lisa Torres, welcome the sounds of Friday night football with her husband and watch their children play the sports they love. Her four kids, who love adventure and being active, don’t fall far from the tree. They exhibit the tenacious energy their mother did when she was a child.

“I remember being a little girl and writing down in a keepsake book what my future goals were. I distinctly remember writing down ‘I wanted to be in the military’,” said Torres. “It always appealed to me; there was just something about it.”

So, after falling in love with her high school’s Marine Corps ROTC program, she went on to serve in the Air Force for four and a half years. Her experience in ROTC confirmed her belief she was meant to join the military; she thrived in an environment focused on discipline and service before self. Above all, she appreciated the intensity.

“I’ve always been very competitive and enjoy setting goals to challenge myself,” said Torres. “I loved my time in the Air Force, and it was a very tough decision not to re-enlist.”

As the saying goes, life happens while you’re making other plans. When the time came for Torres to re-enlist, Pantex was recruiting in San Diego, California. Torres made the difficult decision to change careers and accepted an offer as a Pantex security police officer in 2006. Though she was nervous to begin life as a civilian, she found the atmosphere at Pantex to be similar to that in the military. Security personnel operate on similar ideals—service above self. Many officers are also veterans, which made the transition from the military easier. There is a camaraderie among the officers, as they each know the challenges to overcome after they leave the military.

Her experiences as a SPO were a strong foundation as she continues her career at Pantex. Now, she serves as the Value Stream Element Team program manager within Lean Six Sigma. In this role, she develops and sets up continuous improvement cross-functional teams focused on identifying and implementing sustained improvements. She’s grateful she can make a difference in Pantexans’ daily work and for the constant challenges her job presents.

“Change can be difficult, but once we can make peace with the idea that there might be a better way, it ignites new ideas and improvements,” said Torres. “It’s also always a learning experience for me, so while I get to meet and help folks across the site, it’s also a personally fulfilling role.”

Torres’ dedication to serving others extends to her community. A Panhandle native, she volunteers at the High Plains Food Bank, Snack Pak for Kids, and Hillside Church. She worked to help launch the Pantex Veterans Affinity group Serving Our Service Members and also is a board member for the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“We are all in a very intense season of life right now with the ongoing pandemic and other issues in our nation, but it’s important there is a community for everyone,” said Torres. “That’s what the military taught me: If you serve others and work with others with similar goals and passions, life takes on meaning and gets easier.”

Torres hopes that other veterans and veteran supporters can find their own communities to thrive in. Her goal for the new affinity group is to be a source of encouragement for service members and their families, and aid others in the transition from the military to civilian life.


Pantex firefighters receive special designations

Posted: Wednesday, October 27, 2021 - 09:18

Pantex firefighters Josh Brown, Jeremy Baker and Kris Hickman
Congratulations to Pantex firefighters (from left) Josh Brown, Jeremy Baker, and Kris Hickman who have received Fire Officers credentials from the Center for Public Service Excellence.

Three Pantex fire captains — Josh Brown, Kris Hickman, and Jeremy Baker —are proudly displaying new professional designations from the Center for Public Service Excellence.

Brown, Baker, and Hickman received their Fire Officers credentials, while Scott Johnson and Mike Brock have both renewed their Chief Fire Officer designations.

These new designations reflect their experience, education, professional development, professional contributions, and technical competence. It means they have officially met the high standards set by the center, reaching a level of performance excellence that is uncommon throughout the United States. To date, nationwide there are only 1,554 Chief Fire Officers and 560 Fire Officers. Locally, the city of Amarillo has one Chief Fire Officer and no Fire Officers.

“The standards for Fire Officer and Chief Fire Officer designations are over and above any state certifications that any firefighter at Pantex has already earned,” said Pantex Fire Chief Mike Brock.

Professional credentials for its firefighters are an important part of the Pantex Fire Department’s focus on meeting or exceeding its readiness requirements. The department participates in regular internal and external reviews of its compliance with federal and industry regulations, including a Department of Energy-required baseline needs assessment every 3 years that’s used to evaluate if the fire department’s staff, training, and equipment are ready respond to the site’s fire hazards.

Scott Johnson with Pantex Fire Department
Scott Johnson with Pantex Fire Department
Chief Mike Brock displays his Chief Fire Officer Credentials
Chief Mike Brock displays his Chief Fire Officer Credentials

Two Pantexans among 2021 Top 20 Under 40

Posted: Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - 09:49

Lisa Torres (left) and Brandi Leach
Lisa Torres (left) and Brandi Leach

Congratulations to a pair of Pantex employees who are being recognized by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce with Top 20 Under 40 awards. The awards, presented by the Chamber annually, recognize professionals who demonstrate excellence and bring extra value to the Amarillo community.

Pantexans Brandi Leach, director of Process Engineering, and Lisa Torres, Lean Six Sigma, were chosen to receive the award. To be considered, the nominees, all under the age of 40, must be employed in the Amarillo area and in the same field for at least three years.

Leach has been at Pantex more than 13 years. She leads the organization responsible for developing reliable, repeatable, executable processes for nuclear explosive, special nuclear material, and non-destructive evaluation operations at Pantex.

“Pantex is unlike any other place on earth because you could work here for two lifetimes and never learn it all. I do know I can spend the rest of my life working as hard as possible and never be able to repay what Pantex has provided for me,” said Leach. “I mostly want to continue my career learning about all of the different aspects of the mission and always embody the #TeamPantex attitude.”

Leach and her husband serve as life group leaders through their church, The Church at Bushland. She is also active in their women’s and children’s ministries as well as volunteering as a guest connect team member. Additionally, she supports Snack Pack 4 Kids.

Torres joined Pantex in 2006 after serving in the United States Air Force. She started her career as a security police officer and now serves as the Value Stream Element Team program manager within LSS. In this role, she develops and deploys continuous improvement cross-functional teams focused on identifying and implementing sustained improvements.

“I have such an amazing opportunity to truly partner with folks all across the plant and help teams think through problem-solving, work towards reducing their frustrations, and pursue excellence. I feel completely humbled to have been selected for this award,” said Torres.

Torres is a native of the Panhandle area and is engaged in her community by volunteering at the High Plains Food Bank, Snack Pack for Kids, United Way, Eveline Rivers, and Hillside Church, where she has been the youth ministry leader for years. She is working to help kick off the Pantex Veterans Affinity group and serves as a board member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Pantex has been well represented since the Chamber began its Top 20 Under 40 program in 2009. Seven Pantexans have been chosen: Josh Cunningham, Brandy Ramirez, Eddie De Santiago, Ryan Johnston, Christopher Whitmer, Jeremy Baker, and Kimberly Bush. This year, Pantex was the only organization to have dual-award winners.

The Chamber’s Annual Banquet and Business Excellence Awards is scheduled for December 9 when the Top 20 Under 40 recipients will be officially recognized.