I am mission success: Michael O.

  • Posted: Tuesday, November 21, 2023, 3:59 pm

Pantexan Michael O.
Pantexan Michael O.’s attention to detail prevented what could have caused serious damage to video teleconference rooms in JCDC.

Take 5 minutes to learn about Michael O., audio-visual technician at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

It was a routine day for Michael O. as he was opening one of the video teleconference rooms on the second-floor north wing of John C. Drummond Center, but then something just seemed out of the ordinary.

While unlocking the room, Michael noticed that the digital tablet mounted on the wall next to the door looked defective.

Michael recalled, “I noticed the bezel that holds the screen was bowed out and the Technical Security sticker appeared to be tampered with. Upon further inspection, I realized that the tablet’s screen had broken off the device itself.”

Knowing the nature of the tablets as an experienced audio-visual technician, Michael quickly flagged it as more than a broken screen.

“The defect that occurred is an issue that can cause swollen batteries and device fires,” he said.

In following proper emergency reporting protocol, Michael immediately notified the Pantex Operations Center who connected him with Waste Operations, confirming that it was a potential fire hazard. To mitigate the issue, he was asked to unplug the device from its electrical power source and remove it from the wall as soon as and safely as possible.

However, Michael did not stop there.

“I knew other tablets had been installed around the same time the defective one was installed, so I wanted to check all of the devices around the JCDC to see if it was an isolated incident,” he said.

After inspecting the rest of the second floor of the JCDC, Michael discovered eight more faulty tablets and an additional 20 tablets across the building.

“This just happened to be one of those ‘something out of place, see something say something,’ moments,” he said.

As a result of Michael’s initial attention to detail, all of the identified fire hazardous tablets have been removed from the JCDC, preventing what could have been a costly and dangerous incident.

“We are continuing to monitor the tablets to hopefully catch any further issues quickly,” Michael said. “At this time, a solution to replace the devices is going through appropriate channels.”

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
As a young adult, I wanted to be a musician. During my second year at Amarillo College, I started working with local theaters acting and doing technical aspects (i.e., lights, sound, etc.). Eventually, I realized I wanted to do live events full time, so I transferred to the Santa Fe University of Art and Design where I studied technical theater. From there, I served in various technical director positions until the pandemic hit. With live events shutting down during that time, I moved back to Amarillo. The audio-visual technician position at Pantex became available, so I applied and kept my fingers crossed.

What is your favorite part or aspect of your work environment? How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met?
I’ve found that Pantex is an extremely collaborative environment. My peers have unique talents they bring to the team, and each one is willing to make sure employees’ needs are met every day. I feel that IT,/abbr> roles are constantly changing and developing, so being able to build upon our knowledge and combined years of experience allows us to keep the plant up and running with the tools and technology needed to complete their own mission critical roles.

How does patriotism factor into your life? Did your level of patriotism change after working at Pantex?
I’ve always had a sense of pride for our country and for the people who make up the diverse culture of our nation. Working at Pantex has further instilled my pride in our nation. While I may only play a small role in our mission, it ensures the freedoms and rights we’ve established as a nation. The deterrence that Pantex helps provide to our national defense allows me to go home every day to my family with pride.

What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex or Y-12?
Network and get to know everyone you can. I have talked with and befriended everyone from maintenance staff to our executive leadership team. Each person has something you can learn from.

What would your coworkers be most surprised to learn about you?
I’ve been an actor on stage and on screen in 30+ productions, directed five fully staged plays, designed sets, lighting, and audio for more than 60 live productions, and can play multiple instruments, but my favorite thing was establishing internship programs at each venue I’ve worked at to pass along knowledge to the next generation and give them a place to grow their own passions.