Recognizing our IT systems administrators
Kami Bush, who supports CNS’s VMware virtual infrastructure, stands in front of a Y‑12 server rack in Building 9117.
Think about your daily routine for work. Often, technology plays a role that is front and center. As a collection of hardware, software, applications, and networks, it has undoubtedly grown to serve as a gateway to how we connect with others, find information, track data, or essentially solve problems.
As end users, we infrequently question how or why technology works; it only matters that it does. Yet, behind the secured doors of an internal server room or the screen of a computer supervising our CNS network is an IT systems administrator ensuring that we’re operational and online.
“Our team of administrators are critical to how we connect and perform as an enterprise,” said Brad Burdett, director of IT Operations, who leads a team of more than 50 systems administrators.
From monitoring computer servers and data storage, maintaining virtualization and VPN capabilities, deploying new applications, to solving unplanned system outages, Information Solutions and Services’ systems administrators touch every point of technology at Pantex and Y‑12.
“The most essential skill an IT systems administrator can have is critical thinking,” said IT systems administrator, Kami Bush, who specializes in hardware, storage, and virtualization at Y‑12. “Planning a deployment, creating architecture, or troubleshooting a problem all require critical thinking skills. It’s important that we’re able to see not only the ‘forest,’ but also the ‘trees’ within.”
Keeping attention to detail, the scope of IT systems administrators requires that they look beyond the big picture and into to the ”trees” to monitor operational risks to existing and newly procured hardware, software, or applications connected to our internal network. With more than 2,000 servers and 2,4000 applications connected to the network, it is no easy task.
“The most challenging part of my career is keeping up with the technology. As soon as you get well‑versed in a version or architecture, a new one that is more efficient or powerful replaces it,” Bush said. “That constant advancement means you never get bored, but you also are always challenged to read up on the cutting edge as it will eventually be the new normal.”
Ask any systems administrator and most will agree that change is inevitable in technology. After 15 years at Pantex, IT systems administrator Edmond Keller has served witness and contributor to its growth at the site.
“I have been in the technology industry since 1985. While that does not quite qualify me as ancient in the industry, I am a bit of a dinosaur,” Keller said.
For point of reference, 1985 was also the year the .com domain was born.
“The technology industry consistently reinforces that when you think you have something figured out, there will be an event or situation which proves you really don’t know what you think you know. It is guaranteed humility training,” he said.
Entering the era of digital transformation across our nation and our sites, technology will continue to evolve to better serve the lives and work of our people. As we move from wired to wireless or cords to clouds, you can guarantee that an IT systems administrator will be behind it. In recognition of the 22nd annual IT Systems Administrator Appreciation Day this year, we thank all of you for your work and dedication at Pantex and Y‑12.
CNS Community Investment Grant awards $100k to local organizations
Fourteen Panhandle non-profits were awarded a total of $100,000 from the Consolidated Nuclear Security Community Investment Fund at a June 1 ceremony.
This fund is a partnership between Consolidated Nuclear Security, the management and operations contractor of the Pantex Plant, and the Amarillo Area Foundation. In its six years of existence, over $960,000 has been awarded to more than 50 area organizations.
“We are proud to be part of the Panhandle community, and proud to be connected with so many of you that work so hard to improve the lives of those who live here by providing services, opportunities, and hope,” Jason Bohne, CNS Senior Director of Communications said. “It is truly an honor to partner with the community through these grants, and we sincerely appreciate all that you do.”
This year’s recipients are:
- Amarillo Children's Home - $10,000 to support direct care costs for the Change the Ending Program for foster children
- Another Chance House - $5,000 to provide program support for food, health and wellness needs for men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness
- Buckner Children and Family Services - $6,700 to support FYI Foster Care Youth Program that provides training and preparation for adult living (PAL) life skills for individuals who are aging out of the foster care system
- Driskill Halfway House - $3,000 to support the Oasis and Independence Program for women overcoming addictions with washers, a refrigerator, and outside supplies
- Elizabeth Ruth's Home - $6,000 to support the ERH Experiential Learning Program for autistic individuals
- Faith City Mission - $3,500 to provide for basic needs for the homeless such as food, shelter, and clothes
- Family Support Services - $5,000 to support the Local Outreach for Survivors of Suicide Program, with counseling, site restorations, and short‐term accommodations
- Guyon Saunders Resource Center - $7,800 to support the Helping the Homeless Program by covering GED program costs and computer room costs related to client use for social services, employment, and housing
- Hope and Healing Place - $10,000 to provide scholarships for participants in the Generations Family Program which helps children and families walk through the grief process
- Junior Achievement of the High Plains - $10,000 to support the Biztown Program with IT equipment, such as tablets, servers, phones, and electrical equipment for student simulations as they run mock businesses
- Maverick Boys and Girls Club - $9,000 to provide for Snapology and STEM materials for students
- Mission Amarillo - $10,000 to support the 365 Dad Program with startup curriculum and supplies
- Panhandle Orphan Care Network - $10,000 to support the Moses Closet Expansion with clothes, diapers, and supplies for families receiving placement of new foster child(ren)
- Ronald McDonald House Charities of Amarillo - $4,000 to support the 2021 House Security Service of a security guard during the 6 months of transitioning back into a newly constructed house while volunteers are on hold until COVID restrictions are lifted
CNS first met with the Amarillo Area Foundation in 2014 to work together to establish an innovative and effective method for contributing to the community in a way that would also better engage Pantex employees. Continued conversations led to creation of the Pantex Community Investment Fund.
A committee of Pantex employees reviews and recommends the grants that will be awarded from the Community Investment Fund. Committee members are chosen to serve two-year terms to represent all Pantex employees.
“Along with performing their day jobs as experts in their fields, contributing to Pantex’s success in meeting its national security mission, each of these employees has volunteered their time and expertise in an effort to benefit their community,” Bohne said.
Eleven committee members were also recognized for their service during the ceremony.
Seven completed their two-year term on the committee this year. During their time on the committee, 26 nonprofits in the Texas Panhandle received $221,500 in grants, helping those organizations to expand or continue their missions.
Defense Programs Awards of Excellence Video
In lieu of an in-person event, a video was created to honor the recipients of the 2019 Defense Programs Awards of Excellence. The Defense Programs Award of Excellence was established to recognize, on an annual basis, the contributions of work performed in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. This award is designed to recognize significant achievements in quality, productivity, cost savings, safety, or creativity in support of the nuclear weapons program during 2019.
Pantex teams that were awarded include the High Explosive Pressing and Machining Model, Sample Select System Development, Test Fire Qualification of B61-12, W88 Alt 370 Aft Shell Reprocessing, and W88 Alt 370 Canned Subassembly Reacceptance Process teams.
Y-12 teams that were awarded included Accelerated Completion of all W76-2 Program Deliverables, Completion of Stretch Disassembly and Inspection Activities, Computed Tomography Project, Criticality Accident Prevention, and Restart of Large Casting Operations in Building 9998.
Congratulations to all who performed this vital work to sustain the nation’s nuclear deterrent.
You may watch the Pantex video at this link.
Pantex shares ideas and employees with Leadership Amarillo and Canyon
Leadership Amarillo and Canyon’s Executive Director Lisa Blake discusses the room set-up at the West Texas A&M University Enterprise Center, which has been assisting local entrepreneurs with guidance and business development since 2001. Note: This photo was taken in April 2021 and does not show any CNS employees.
At the end of every summer, a group of about 50 Panhandle area professionals come together to create a new class for Leadership Amarillo and Canyon (LAC). Formed in 1981, LAC's sole mission is to strengthen Amarillo and the surrounding communities by providing leadership development through educational programs and on-site business and industry tours, and by bringing individuals together from all walks of professional life.
“Regardless of the type of business or industry, connection to other business leaders is vital and very important to continued success,” said Lisa Blake, LAC executive director. “LAC helps open the door for leaders to serve on various boards and committees by providing connection. Our desire is for leaders to fulfill their passion by serving and helping our community.”
Once a month over the length of the 9-month program, LAC introduces participants to a wide variety of professional speakers and programs focusing on the areas of leadership development, networking, community awareness, and social consciousness.
Over the years, Pantex has been a part of the organization and has sponsored employees to participate in eachLAC class being offered. Buses filled with people from a wide variety of professions across the Panhandle area would be brought to Pantex for a full day of on-site activities. The group participated in a windshield tour in addition to lunch at the 12-103 cafeteria, along with a photo-op in front of the “Fat Boy” weapon replica. But the highlight for the tour group was always the stop at the west end of the firing site. They were informed they would be watching a controlled test shot…and inevitably, the group joined together with their collective “gasps” as the concussion of the shock wave passed by them, just a heartbeat after witnessing the explosion. The majority of responses back to LAC leadership always mentioned that Pantex event as one of their favorite activities during their time with LAC.
Pantex has sponsored a representative in almost every class since LAC began, noting that the on-site tours were both insightful and eye-opening. Participating Pantexans said they each made new friends and business contacts they probably would have never met otherwise, and each thoroughly enjoyed their time spent with LAC.
“LAC furthered my belief that we have more in common with our neighbor than we are told. Most people function based on middle-of-the-road principles rather than extremes, so there is always opportunity to learn something from each other. As leaders, we should seek out the things that we have in common with those whom we are leading. No one wants to follow a leader who does not share similar values,” said Deron Lucero, Pantex graphic designer and graduate of LAC.
“Attending Leadership Amarillo gave me an opportunity to learn about our area and meet some wonderful people,” said Darla Fish, Pantex Community and Education Outreach coordinator and another graduate of LAC.
“I had always heard great things about LAC and was excited when my name came up to join them for a year,” said Steve Myers of Pantex Communications, who is in the current LAC class. “It’s a widely diverse group of professionals from all around the area, each with their own insights on the economy, local business and industry, and their leaders…and how we can all make a connection that spurs communication and growth. We had to develop virtual tours during COVID but didn‘t miss a beat, and we always had great guests and speakers each month.”
“Many positive changes have occurred in our community as a result of our presentations, discussions, and tours of businesses and sites like Pantex. Participating in our organization also provides consistent networking among leaders of various industries, which opens doors for long-term connections,” said Blake.
LAC wants to inspire individuals who desire to make a difference by engaging them in current political and social issues, and exposing them to many of the challenges facing their communities. Through partnerships with many organizations, participants are involved in understanding the workings of local, state, and federal governments, the variety of businesses in the area, issues facing individuals in poverty, and the wonderful cultural diversity that is evident in the area. The program is designed to challenge the way people think about their communities, business, and themselves.
“Participating in Leadership Amarillo and Canyon is critically important for many reasons,” according to Blake. “Understanding our community, the challenges, successes, and obstacles, is important for all leaders and all businesses, including Pantex. Not only does our organization expose leaders to the reality of various issues, we provide the opportunity to collaborate and create solutions as well.”
As a non-profit organization, LAC is solely funded by the support of local businesses, allowing employees to participate in the annual program.
“LAC fosters community and we serve as a bridge between leaders and organizations. We often times help individuals find areas in which to serve and help meet needs. It is a win for individuals and for companies,” added Blake.
The current Leadership Amarillo and Canyon class met at the WT Enterprise Center to listen to business leaders and begin a busy day of conferences and business tours. Note: This photo was taken in April 2021 and does not show any CNS employees.
Owners of Creek House Honey Farm, Paige and George Nester, speak with Leadership Amarillo and Canyon about starting a new businesses and their recipe for success during their presentation at the WT Enterprise Center. Note: This photo was taken in April 2021 and does not show any CNS employees.
Pantexans spare time for Big Brother Big Sisters
CNS Chief Operating Officer Bill Tindal (left) and Pantex Site Manager Todd Ailes give a $10,000 donation to Emily Nance, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Texas Panhandle.
Many Pantexans got out and bowled to help support the Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Texas Panhandle May 1 during the Bowl for Kids’ sake event.
This annual day of bowling is one that participants look forward to every year. Pantexans form teams, come up with creative team names, and spend part of a Saturday bowling for a good cause – one aimed at matching caring adults to children in need.
Pantex has been a main sponsor of Bowl for Kids’ Sake for 18 years, and in March, donated $10,000 to help fund the event and aid BBBS in recruiting and training mentors.
“We couldn’t do any of this without community donors,” Emily Nance, BBBS of the Texas Panhandle executive director, said. “Bowl for Kids’ Sake would not be the most fun event ever without the Pantex crew. So, it means a lot. We don’t charge fees for our services; they are free to volunteers and to parents, so we must raise the money to have professional staff to track the matches and make the matches.”
BBBS has a lasting impact on the children it serves and the mentors who volunteer their time. Pantex has been fortunate to partner with this incredible organization for many years, and the enduring legacy of BBBS is featured in this video.
If you are interested in becoming a Big Brother or Big Sister, contact Emily Nance, Executive Director, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Texas Panhandle at 806.351.2210