Meet our Sandia Weapon Intern Program Class of 2022 selections

  • Posted: Thursday, December 16, 2021, 3:46 pm

Pantexan Edward Graef is part of the Sandia Weapon Intern Program, Class of 2022
Pantexan Edward Graef and Y-12 Matthew Willard (not pictured) are part of the Sandia Weapon Intern Program, Class of 2022.

Two CNS employees are joining the ranks of the prestigious Sandia Weapon Intern Program (WIP) for the class of 2022. Edward Graef, Pantex physics senior specialist, and Matthew Willard, Y-12 process engineer, began the program in August 2021.

Both Graef and Willard are looking forward to the program, saying it is considered by many within the Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE) to be a “once in a career” opportunity.

“I have had the opportunity to meet and work with so many other capable people at Pantex that it was humbling to know I was selected from among them for this opportunity,” said Graef.

“I was both humbled and excited about the opportunity,” said Willard. “It also comes with the realization that I am a representative of all of us here at Y-12.”

WIP was created by Sandia National Laboratories as a formal mechanism to pass decades of tribal knowledge down to the next generation of scientists, engineers, and leaders. The year-long program begins with classroom work and learning in the first six months, along with site visits, and research assignments. During the final months, participants are embedded in various organizations across Sandia to work on specific projects.

Both CNS participants are looking forward to learning from and working with other WIP interns and mentors from across the abbr title="Nuclear Security Enterprise">NSE.

“The collaborations will further expand my technical and leadership capabilities to better address our stewardship missions,” said Graef.

“One topic that I look forward to learning the most is about the lifecycle of the weapon systems,” said Willard. “Specifically, how DoD requirements turn into designs, those designs eventually become physical systems, and how those physical systems are assessed and certified throughout their lifetime so that they will function as intended if ever needed to.”

Over the course of the program, the interns will learn skills and knowledge that they’ll be able to bring back to their teams at Pantex and Y-12.

“I want to bring back a more refined set of communication skills and a better understanding of the abbr title="Nuclear Security Enterprise">NSE's needs for our evolving role in stockpile stewardship and safety,” said Graef. “For Pantex as a whole, I want to bring back clearer goals to advance our modeling and simulation based engineering approaches to help address plant needs while also improving the safety and security of our workforce and the stockpile.”

Willard looks forward to the benefits of knowledge and professional relationships he will build. “Increased knowledge helps in understanding the ’why‘ when we may be asked to do things a certain way, that may be different from what we are used being asked to by our customers, and those relationships provide lines of communication throughout the NSE as we all continue our careers.”

Congratulations to Graef and Willard on their internships.