Pantex Blog

Betty’s “boop” provides safety, security for Pantex engineer

Posted: Tuesday, December 6, 2022 - 12:51

Pantexan Claire Streeter is open to educating people about Type 1 diabetes and service dogs like her standard poodle, Betty.
Pantexan Claire Streeter is open to educating people about Type 1 diabetes and service dogs like her standard poodle, Betty.

Pantex safety analysis engineer Claire Streeter has her own emergency alert system: A white standard poodle named Betty. Betty is a full-time service dog with a vital mission: Keep her person safe.

“Her job is truly just to monitor my blood sugar levels for my diabetes. She’s trained to boop her nose on my leg to get my attention,” said Streeter.

When Betty “boops,” Streeter puts a hand in front of Betty’s nose for a reading. Betty pushes Streeter’s hand up to indicate high blood sugar levels and down for low levels. Without this vital notification, Streeter could pass out or experience long-term damage to soft tissues.

“I have a lot of monitors that I wear, and she’s faster than my monitors,” said Streeter. “Not only is she faster, she’s more accurate. She runs about 90–95% accurate while the pumps and meters run about 70–80% accurate.”

Streeter is open about sharing her disability and talking about Betty’s role in her life. After all, she said, it is hard to conceal a large white standard poodle on campus.

“I want to be open about educating people in the plant both about Type 1 diabetes and service dogs,” Streeter said. “I think there are a lot of misconceptions about service dogs: how to obtain them, what they do, even the cost of obtaining one, and people are also curious about what they do – for example, people are always fascinated that she can tell me what my blood sugar is. She has a much bigger purpose and a higher responsibility – she is a much more highly trained dog than many people expect.”

“I feel it’s a helpful metric for the company to identify places where they could make things more accessible in an able-bodied world. As a company, you think of the obvious, like ramps and elevators, but you wouldn’t necessarily think to have doors set up differently so a dog could go through. It’s important to recognize who’s working for you and why some of those things might be a beneficial change,” she said.

Betty goes everywhere with Streeter: trains, planes, buses, boats, cars, and even bars.

“We went to Chicago for St. Patty’s day, and she was in the bars with me. She came out green, but she went in and she did her job,” Streeter said.

No matter where Betty is— deep in dreams on the floor of Streeter’s work area, or wide awake and keeping a close eye on Streeter’s nighttime panic button in case it needs vigorously booped— Betty’s highest role is making sure Streeter can do anything she wants to do.

“She’s a medical device in the form of a big white fluffy dog with attitude that just happens to be at the end of my arm. I see her as an attachment of my arm. So, a lot of times when I walk into the room, I don’t think people are going to look at me and think I’m disabled,” Streeter said. “I don’t think it defines me or my job. I want people to look at me and think I’m just as capable of doing any job whether I have a dog or not. It was a big step to decide to have such a visible sign that I have a disability, but I’m going to own it.”

I am mission success: Chris Ickles

Posted: Wednesday, November 30, 2022 - 12:03

Chris Ickles, deputy chief information security officer at Pantex
Meet Chris Ickles, deputy chief information security officer at Pantex, who plays a key role in the security and strategic defense of our network and systems.

All views and opinions are the employee’s and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

While cybersecurity is frequently regarded as the act of protecting a network of information and systems from theft or damage, a key element of its definition and study is acknowledging how people factor into its defense and practice.

Many information theft cases are a result of human error due to negligence or lack of cybersecurity awareness. It’s important to recognize the impact we all have in safekeeping our technology.

As a key expert, leader, and direct support to the site, Pantex’s Chris Ickles is integral to the strategic development and operations of CNS's Cybersecurity programs.

By ensuring that our interconnected network of information, systems, and people are protected in the digital landscape, Ickles focuses on CNS's daily cybersecurity defense posture in analyzing risk balanced security measures and forming strategies against cyber threats.

What daily task lets you know you are helping achieve the CNS mission?
Cybersecurity is multifaceted. It has a primary responsibility to protect and defend our systems and our data. This precipitates actions across the entire enterprise that begin with security awareness, training, policies, procedures, requirements, testing, verification, and validation of all systems and users that support our mission.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
My professional background originates in networking. It started while working in public school systems with a passion for technology. As far as doing what I envisioned for myself as a young adult, no. I graduated college with a bachelor’s degree in science and majored in chemistry and biology with a minor in math, but I was hooked on computers by the time I graduated. This quickly became my passion.

What CNS principle drives you to be successful?
My drive comes from the principle of continuous improvement. This mindset involves personal knowledge and skill growth as well as system improvements. We all benefit from a learning environment both at work and at home. Sometimes we teach and sometimes we learn. We need to expect daily opportunities for both.

What work advice would you offer someone who is starting work at Pantex?
Fully comprehend the job they are hired to do (e.g., role, responsibility, work result, impacts of success). Your professional approach to your work is important to our mission and impacts the nation.

What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
I taught high school chemistry three years prior to entering IT and networking.

I am Mission Success: DeRema Dalton

Posted: Tuesday, November 15, 2022 - 10:46

DeRema Dalton, special tooling planner scheduler at Pantex

Take five minutes and learn about CNS's DeRema Dalton, special tooling planner scheduler at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

Patriotism and the passion to fulfill the mission tasked to Pantex run in DeRema Dalton’s blood — as it has for generations of family before her.

She has worked at the plant for 28 years, the third generation of a family that has sacrificed to support this important mission since Pantex was formed.

“As the country was experiencing the Great Depression and my grandparents’ farm was failing due to drought conditions, my grandpa — Roy Hyatt — moved himself from Wellington, Texas, to Amarillo,” Dalton said. “He came to work at Pantex in 1942.”

His son — Dalton’s father, Charles — joined in 1969 as an assembly operator (now known as a production technician).

“I’m very proud of the services and sacrifices they put into their work at Pantex,” Dalton said. “Grandpa helped build this place, and my dad assembled weapons. What an honor, knowing the wars we were going through during those eras and how my grandpa and dad helped protect this country.”

Dalton’s late husband, Wendel, began working at the plant in 1972. He served most of his career as a firefighter, sacrificing many Christmas Days to ensure the plant’s safety, but also becoming a first-rate cook. (“Those guys in the fire department can cook!” she says.)

Dalton began working in 1994 as a subcontractor clerk and served in several departments before finding a home in the planning department in 2001. She works to ensure that her assigned programs run smoothly, which requires intense coordination with her team.

“My daddy walked these same hallways,” Dalton said. “It makes me feel really proud. We’ve all made our sacrifices for working out here, and I’m not far behind them. It happens, and that’s what we do. We make sure our country is safe and our freedoms are still here.

“I’m very serious when I talk about my patriotism and how proud I am of my family working out here,” she said. “It means everything to me.”

How does patriotism factor into your life?
My uncle served in World War II and my cousin in Vietnam. My patriotism runs deep, and I am very proud of the service they gave our country.

I am very proud of what we (as Pantexans) are doing to make our country safe.

I have buried family and friends—I miss them with all my heart—but one thing I know: What they did in their lifetime meant something. As my kids always said, “they protected us from the bad guys.”

So, here’s a piece of advice: Hug your loved ones (including coworkers) every day and often. What we do at Pantex means something and needs to be recognized as heroic.

What is your favorite aspect about your work environment?
How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met? In the beginning of my career, just the overall feeling of pride was everywhere. You just knew that you were a part of protecting our country and our future.

As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
I want people to remember me as hardworking, fun, loving to be around, honest, and truthful.

What work advice would you offer someone who is new?
Listen to the old-timers. We know what we’re talking about.

Never try to sugarcoat the truth. Be straight up. Truth sometimes hurts, but your reputation grows from that, and people know who they can trust.

What’s your top bucket list item and why?
To travel to Israel. I want to walk the streets where Jesus walked and feel that presence in my soul.

Veterans deliver on the mission across CNS

Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2022 - 09:09

Veterans deliver on the mission across CNS

With more than 2,260 veterans employed across both sites, CNS understands and values the skills that previous military experience brings. The CNS mission is often a logical fit for veterans as working at Pantex or Y-12 allows them to continue their service to the nation.

“Veterans are able to transition into the workforce at CNS easily,” explained Emily Graber, CNS director of Human Resources’ Engagement, Inclusion, and Performance department. “They often are hired for not only their technical skills, but also their leadership, teamwork, decision making, problem solving, and loyalty.”

CNS works hard to actively recruit veterans for open positions through a variety of avenues such as in-person and virtual job fairs at military transition offices and bases, as well as tools such as LinkedIn and Indeed. Programs including Veterans to Engineers and the Department of Defense (DoD) SkillBridge internship act as a path to more easily bring in veterans who have retired or are near the end of their military service careers.

CNS has been partnering with the DoD SkillBridge program for almost three 3 years, and has hosted more than 56 veterans during that time. The program allows transitioning service members to spend up to their last six 6 months of service on active duty with CNS. It also gives CNS an opportunity to determine if the participating veterans are a good fit for the organization and allows for an easier transition into a full-time position if the placement is available.

“We are honored to partner with the DoD SkillBridge program to offer an opportunity for transitioning service members to intern with us here at CNS,” said Graber. “Our program has a great reputation for bringing on talented veterans who are able to come in and immediately make a positive impact at CNS based on their experience and prior service to the nation.”

To date, CNS has hired 33 SkillBridge interns into full-time positions, which showcases the value that management sees in the program.

“The Skillbridge program was a huge benefit to my family and to me,” said former SkillBridge intern and current Y-12 communications specialist Matt Pippin. “I was able to intern here at Y-12 and learn how to apply the skills I gained in the Army to the CNS mission. Y-12, in many ways, is similar to working on a military installation so it made the transition from Army life to civilian fairly smooth. Making the transition from military life to civilian is quite difficult so I was happy to see how CNS supports service members and veterans trying to build the next stage of their life.”

CNS also provides support for veterans after they are hired. The Serving our Service Members Affinity Groups at both sites support veteran employees and families during military service, assists with hiring from the veteran community, and provides volunteer and social opportunities with larger East Tennessee and Texas Panhandle veteran groups.

In fiscal year (FY) 2022, CNS successfully hired 288 veterans, which was an increase from the 113 veterans hired in FY 2021. Due to this accomplishment, CNS was recently awarded a gold medallion by the HIRE Vets Medallion Program, which recognizes employers for their efforts to recruit, employ, and retain our nation’s veterans. The Honoring Investments in Recruiting and Employing American Military Veterans (HIRE Vets) Act of 2017 was signed into law in May 2017. The Department of Labor’s Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) administers the HIRE Vets Medallion Program. This is the third year in a row that CNS has received the gold medallion award for its work in veteran recruiting and retention.

An additional recognition at Y-12 in FY 2022 came when Site Manager Gene Sievers received a Patriot Award from the DoD’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve program. The award, while given to single person, reflects employer efforts to support citizen warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off before and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence. More than 100 active guard members and reservists work at Y-12.

It is not the recognition that keeps CNS recruiters actively searching for veterans to fill positions time and time again. With real-life work experience, accountability for their actions, strong work ethic, and good performance under pressure, veterans have a plethora of skills that are invaluable to employers. CNS is proud to employ many of our country’s heroes as we all work side-by-side toward our collective mission.

I am Mission Success: James D. Harris

Posted: Monday, November 7, 2022 - 15:32

James “J.D.” Harris, production manager at Pantex

Take five minutes and learn about CNS's James “J.D.” Harris, production manager at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

The work that James “J.D.” Harris has done in his career has often run parallel to the Pantex mission, but they did not intersect until 7 years ago.

Growing up, the Amarillo native wanted to be a youth minister, but after graduating high school, he joined the U.S. Air Force and served 6 years of active duty as a munitions systems specialist, a choice that forever changed his trajectory.

“That line of work seemed to fit perfectly with the Pantex mission,” he said. “It gave me a different perspective on how I thought about my path in life. I was excited about the things I got to be a part of in the Air Force and I wanted to continue that after separating.” Harris still serves as a member of the Air National Guard.

After earning a degree at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, he applied at Pantex.

“Pantex was always in the back of my mind, but as I began to pursue it as my career, I did not believe it would be a reality,” Harris said. “The initial phone call for an interview is one that I will always remember.”

Harris started as a production section manager over the W88 and B61 weapons programs before moving to operations. He was promoted to production manager for the Production Tooling Department before settling in to his current role as production manager for the W88 program.

Why are you mission success?
I’m not sure that I, alone, am “mission success,” but I’ve certainly been a part of several teams that could be considered that. No success that I have ever obtained has been done by my hand alone.

Without the production technicians, I would be nowhere, and without support organizations, I would be nowhere. Where my success happens is when I can engage with both of those groups and bring them together, so that we can all be “mission success.”

What advice would you offer to veterans joining Pantex’s efforts?
Although there are lots of similarities between a life in the military and a life as a Pantex employee, the thing that a veteran shouldn’t expect is that they are one and the same.

Sometimes it was difficult for me, in the beginning, to see this as a civilian job, but that’s what this is. Demands from Pantex’s customer often change. Major projects come to an end, and a new goal is established and executed. In the military, the demand never changes. The goal never really changes.

A veteran just beginning at Pantex should be prepared to experience change.

As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
I want to be known as someone who could achieve success while being dedicated to my employees and to the mission. There is balancing act that is needed to ensure the mission of Pantex is met, while also ensuring your employees work in a healthy environment.

If I can be known as someone who was able to achieve that, then I’ll be happy.

What top strength do you bring to your organization?
Communication. I believe that the only way an organization can be successful is by open and honest communication.

I communicate with my team, with my management, and with all support organizations regularly.

What is your top bucket list item?
To live long enough to see the Cowboys win another Super Bowl. I’m running out of time.