Meet this summer’s CNS interns

  • Posted: Wednesday, August 26, 2020, 4:49 pm
Kennedy Venneman

Kennedy Venneman, a professional chemistry major at West Texas A&M University, spent her second summer interning at Pantex this year. (No mask necessary in workspace.)

Across the country, college students have been forced to adjust schedules and routines for the upcoming academic year in response to COVID-19. Despite the changes it has brought, CNS successfully committed to providing educational development opportunities for students this summer as a part of the CNS Internship Program.

In June, Pantex and Y-12 welcomed 40 participants, 16 at Pantex and 24 at Y-12, to the 2020 intern class! Each had the opportunity to learn what CNS has to offer, virtually and in person.

Behind the mission
Brittany Schidel, a mechanical engineering major pursuing her master’s degree at the University of Tennessee, was prepared to begin her first internship at Y-12. Growing up in Knoxville, she was familiar with the site’s history and even got to attend student outreach events at New Hope Center. Nonetheless, the knowledge she has gained from her time interning with Y-12 Reliability & Maintainability was eye opening.

“I was surprised by the amount of information I have learned in such a short period of time,” Schidel said. “I have been able to participate in field work along with supporting the condition based maintenance team in their future projects on site. Everyone has been so helpful with teaching me about the site and allowing me to work hands on with them and understand what the Preventive Maintenance team does at Y-12.”

As a Ph.D. pre candidate in nuclear engineering at the University of Michigan, Thomas Folk looked forward to interning at Y-12 for the first time. Along with having the opportunity to relate his curriculum to real world experience, Folk was also eager to apply and contribute to the mission after learning more about Y-12 at the Millennial Nuclear Caucus at New Hope Center in 2019.

During his interview, Folk admittedly knew he was in the right place for the summer.

“A big reason that drove me to want to intern at Y-12 is through the conversation with my hiring manager during an interview,” Folk said. “Not only did I want to take on an internship for the technical aspect, I equally desired to build leadership qualities and strong team working abilities.”

A ‘new normal’ summer
With her sights set to become a future chemical engineer, Danica Ruiz, a chemical engineering major at Texas Tech University, knew Pantex would allow her to gain the skills to do so through improving her technical experience and problem solving skills. As the summer approached, Ruiz admits she was thankful that CNS made the effort to preserve the internship program despite the pandemic.

CNS has made every effort to ensure our safety and well-being by implementing teleworking and a remote onboarding process,” Ruiz said. “Since I have been able to start working on site, everyone at Pantex has been welcoming while still encouraging and participating in social distancing. I am incredibly thankful for the valuable experience I have gained in this short amount of time. CNS has shown their ability to continue towards their mission without compromising safety.”

For Bryce Rogers, a business management major with a concentration in project management at Elon University, his second year interning at Y-12 looked a little different than the last. As Rogers primarily teleworked through his internship, his experience with Y-12 Supply Chain Management proved to be just as valuable and engaging.

“Everyone who I’ve spoken with has tried to keep a positive outlook on everything,” Rogers said. “This is obviously not how many of us expected to be performing our internships this summer; however, many of the employees continue to be just as engaged and impactful to my experience here, just as if I was standing right there in their cube.”

While working with Y-12 Supply Chain Management, Rogers admittedly not only took away practical skills for the future by getting involved with daily meetings and tasks. He also began to understand the gravity of the mission.

“The fact that I get to tell people the work that we perform every day helps keep the country safe is something that I never thought I’d get a chance to say,” Rogers said. “To be completely honest, the work that we do here is just plain cool.”

Thomas Folk

Thomas Folk took part in the CNS mission this summer interning with Y-12 Global Security. (No mask necessary in private space.)
Hector Rivero Figueroa

As a mechanical engineering major at West Texas A&M, Hector Rivero Figueroa (left) looked forward to interning with Pantex Engineering, “because it is one of the best careers to have here in the Amarillo area.”

Drew Rowlands

Drew Rowlands (center), an intern with Pantex Fire Protection, was able to refine his skillset as a fire protection and safety engineering major at Oklahoma State University.
Brittany Schidel

For Brittany Schidel, taking part in hands‑on experiences, means learning how condition‑based maintenance is able to improve workflow on‑site and assist areas of the plant.