Pantex Blog

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.

Nuclear security program gives interns a double bonus

Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 15:47

CNS Internship Program

Through online training and interacting with Craig Marianno, deputy director of the Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives at Texas A&M, 28 interns received a nuclear security certificate this summer.

This year’s interns were offered an experience that not only broadened their awareness of what we do but also gave them something unique for their resumes.

Consolidated Nuclear Security coordinated a nuclear security certificate program through Texas A&M University and offered the training for free to interns with support from the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program.

A total of 28 interns — 7 from Pantex and 21 from Y-12 — benefitted from online training and interaction with Craig Marianno, deputy director of the Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives at Texas A&M. He recently closed out the program with an in person session at Pantex and a virtual session for Y 12 interns.

Ashley Stowe, CNS university relations program manager, said the program gives interns a leg up in their fields of study.

“The nuclear security certificate program provides interns with an excellent overview of the various aspects of nuclear security that Y-12, Pantex, and the Nuclear Security Enterprise consider every day,” he said. “This broad perspective of nuclear security topics combined with the interns’ specific summer projects gives them a unique advantage in their careers.”

Stowe said that while more than half the interns who participated were MSIPP students, all CNS interns were eligible to partake in this professional development opportunity.

In the paragraphs that follow, interns share why they participated.

“I chose to participate in the program because I knew certifications in any field are useful and can further my career. My interest in Y-12 is another reason why I decided to obtain the certificate, as I can see myself working here for some time! I have gained a new awareness from the program. It taught me different things to be aware of that I can use on a daily basis. It was a great experience overall, even though the modules were long.” — Noah Thomas, Y-12

“I really wanted to learn more about the fundamental and essential elements that make up a national nuclear security program, so participation in this program was the perfect opportunity to gain a better understanding of who we are and what we do.

“It has definitely increased my awareness of how important securing nuclear and radioactive material of all types is, whether it’s in use, storage, or transport. The emergence of cyberthreats and other new technologies that might be used in attacks has also increased understanding of the need for nuclear security. We all have a part in supporting the mission, and I think that’s absolutely incredible.” — Marena Soulet Vargas, Y-12

“I chose to participate in the program because I enjoy learning new things, and I believe it lines up well with my field of study. Eventually, I want to end up in cybersecurity at Pantex, so having knowledge of nuclear security is a great first step.

The program is great for helping to understand the importance of nuclear security and safeguards and their relationship to the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency]. It also goes over a variety of threats that pressure the facilities from the outside and how to mitigate or ward off their efforts.” — Matthew Smith, Pantex

“I decided to participate in the certificate program to expand my knowledge of nuclear related material.

“The program has allowed me to see from a different perspective how beneficial nuclear material can be to humanity by creating clean energy and effective deterrents. The program also made me more aware of the drawbacks of nuclear technology if it gets in the wrong hands or is improperly used. I have learned how nuclear technology originated, which nations possess such capabilities, and the kinds of regulations that must be met for a state to possess it. The program has really helped me to understand what we do here at CNS and how nuclear technology has contributed to worldwide peace and our freedom.” — Chris Freire, Pantex

“I have had the opportunity over the past 2 years to learn about nuclear safety in our country. By taking this course, I am able to showcase what I have learned by being rewarded with a certificate that shows just a small piece of the dedication that I have to this field.

“This program has given me a chance to apply myself further in my internship by reinforcing my daytime working hours with nighttime study hours that push me to have a greater focus and understanding of the mission I have here as an employee, even if my employment is just seasonal.” — Matthew Fleck, Y-12

“I chose to participate in the certificate program because of the opportunity to gain new knowledge and understanding. Nuclear security is very important, and I wanted to take advantage of this program to broaden my awareness and comprehension of this topic.

“After completing the program, I now understand nuclear security in a more detailed way. I believe the program has helped me to develop new perspectives that will aid in my contribution to the overall mission.” — Cason Worthy, Y-12

Bechtel awards scholarship to children of CNS and UPF employees

Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 15:46

Congratulating Bechtel Global Scholars

Congratulations to the Bechtel Global Scholars with ties to Pantex, Y 12, and the Uranium Processing Facility.

The 2021 Bechtel Global Scholars program awarded a total of $75,000 in college funds to 25 students in six countries. The $3,000 scholarship goes to students in their first year of studies at an accredited college, university, vocational institute, or technical school.

Among the 25 students receiving the scholarship this year, five are a child of a Consolidated Nuclear Security or Uranium Processing Facility Project employee:

  • Jocelyn Espinoza, daughter of Pantex’s Andrew Espinoza
  • Olivia Horner, daughter of Pantex’s Robbie White
  • Nathan Nelson, son of UPF’s Jeanne Grozdanich Nelson
  • Alexandria Perry, daughter of Y 12’s Douglas Perry
  • Oviya Shanmugam, daughter of UPF’s Nambi Shanmugam

Oviya Shanmugam thanked Bechtel for the opportunity. “I consider it a great honor to have been chosen as a recipient of this scholarship,” she said.

Her father, Nambi Shanmugam, said, “I appreciate Bechtel for identifying, recognizing, and rewarding young achievers on their first step toward higher education. It is especially encouraging after overcoming a very challenging last year.”

Parent Robbie White also expressed his appreciation to Bechtel. “We feel honored for the selection and thankful for the aid during this transition year as our youngest daughter leaves the nest,” he said.

Jocelyn Espinoza said the scholarship will help further her education. “I am very excited to have been selected for this award, and it will go a long way to help me achieve my goals,” she said.

Bechtel Group Foundation funds the scholarship, which is managed by Scholarship America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to encouraging global educational achievement. This year, 160 students from eight countries applied for the scholarship. Scholarship America reviewed each application before the final selection.

The opportunity is open to students in all fields of study, with preference given to those pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering, or math. Bechtel scholarships are awarded each year for full-time study at an accredited institution of the student’s choice. However, current undergraduates are not eligible for the program.

Since its start in 2001, the Bechtel Global Scholars program has awarded $1.3 million in college funding to 486 students.

Quotes from the scholars
Jocelyn Espinoza: “I am very excited to have been selected for this award, and it will go a long way to help me achieve my goals.”

Olivia Horner: “I’m very thankful for this investment in my future. I am very thankful for the recognition of my hard work throughout high school. I am incredibly excited to pursue my business degree at Texas A&M University!”

Nathan Nelson: “My family and I are both grateful to be considered and awarded this scholastic opportunity to help further my education. Thank you very much!”

Alexandria Perry: “It is an honor to be chosen to represent my high school and my family in accepting this generous scholarship. I feel a remarkable amount of support and personal enthusiasm as I begin my collegiate journey, and I am very thankful!”

Oviya Shanmugam: “I am thankful to Bechtel for the opportunity and consider it a great honor to have been chosen as a recipient of this scholarship. This award will be a great addition to support my college tuition.”

Learning to juggle all the moving pieces of program management

Posted: Thursday, September 16, 2021 - 15:44

Program Management University graduates

In this photo from 2019, a group of Program Management University graduates gather to celebrate the end of their sessions. Now, most of the classes are virtual with in person sessions once travel restrictions are relaxed.

Managing an NNSA program involves a lot of moving parts. To be successful, program managers need to juggle a host of skills — planning, budgeting, evaluating, managing, and integrating multiple, complex project initiatives, priorities, and transitions, often over long periods of time. These are the skills Pantex and Y-12 program managers are mastering through Program Management University.

What is PMU?
Developed for interested Pantex, Y-12, and NNSA Production Office employees, PMU has held classes every year since 2018. As of early 2021, more than 200 staff members across a variety of site organizations have either completed or are attending the training. Upcoming sessions are scheduled for later this year and again in 2022.

PMU is a thoughtfully constructed and continuously evolving curriculum with several objectives that promote performance improvement in program management and critical interfaces, while informing and calibrating attendees to a set of clear expectations,” said David Young, NPO assistant manager for Programs and Projects.

What makes PMU unique?
The training enables consistent and uniform management of programs across Pantex and Y-12. Some programs, such as Stockpile Programs, also require new managers to have more technical qualifications tailored to managing specific requirements and interacting with design agencies.

“The goal of PMU is to achieve ‘best in class’ program management across the Nuclear Security Enterprise by providing NNSA with consistently superior management of all programs,” said Dan Linehan, senior director of Mission Baseline and Indirect and Technology Programs. “PMU enhances a program manager’s understanding of the broader NNSA mission and augments communications across Pantex and Y-12.”

What are the benefits of PMU training?
“I am new to the Program Integration organization and recently completed the PMU curriculum,” said Marina Yeary, director of Technology Development and Transfer for Program Integration. “The range of information covered is impressive, including NNSA directives, Pantex and Y-12 missions, Program Integration business processes, and program manager skills and qualifications. The training has enhanced my understanding of my role, the business, our customer, and our goals.”

PMU consists of three, one week sessions where the first session is an overview of the Nuclear Security Enterprise and NNSA’s programs. The second is a review of tools and techniques, and the third focuses on skills development.

The class content has been refined over time and now includes virtual classes. The second session will be held virtually while the first and third sessions will be held at Pantex and Y-12 to allow for in person interaction and tours once travel restrictions are relaxed.

“During each training session, quizzes are taken along with a final exam,” Linehan said. “Ongoing success is measured by how well our customer perceives each program’s performance. Finally, because program managers are more effective and efficient at managing their programs after attending PMU, we are seeing validated cost savings.”