Pantex Blog

I am mission success: Max Robertson

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - 14:42

Max Robertson, director of Information Technology Business Operations
Take 5 minutes and learn about Max Robertson, director of Information Technology Business Operations at Pantex and Y-12. All views and opinions are the employee’s and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

With digital systems and technology integral to how we operate, Information Solutions and Services enables a wide range of business-related and mission-essential services, processes, and products at Pantex and Y-12. To name a few, IS&S supports more than 13,000 devices, 4,000 VPN connections, and 2,000 servers that reside on our network. In honor of this year’s seventh annual IT Professionals’ Day, we recognize and thank the leaders and experts in the field of Information Technology and Cybersecurity that not only keep us connected and protected, but are part of building the future landscape of technology for our mission.

As the demand for new technology increases to support growth and modernization at the sites, Max Robertson, director of IT Business Operations, plays a major role in its development. From facilitating current projects that require IS&S support to approving procurements of new hardware and software, Robertson’s team is tasked with ensuring every form of technology on a project (e.g., computers, software, components) follows the required quality, security, and implementation steps before it meets the network.

“We are looking to the future in IS&S, but we also support the current projects across the business that are underway and require a digital footprint,” Robertson said. “While funding and scope are key, the people of IS&S are truly the essential element behind the success and completion of a project.”

What daily task lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission? How/why does that task let you know you’re working toward the mission?
There are a few daily tasks that factor into how I know we’re helping achieve the mission. First and foremost, it’s knowing that we’re keeping our systems and network operational. Secondly, it’s knowing how our projects are making positive progress, and lastly, it’s knowing if the demands are being scoped clearly. This helps my team and me see that we are supporting the foundation of the business today (i.e., systems, purchases, and contracts) and preparing to support technology in the future.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
I am doing so much more than I envisioned for myself. I had a limited vision at the beginning of my career. My background is in nuclear engineering, so my focus was working in a nuclear power plant for 30 to 40 years and then retiring. I never dreamed I would be able to accomplish all that I have in the past 35 years, including starting up first-of-kind nuclear facilities, protecting nuclear power plants from cyber threats, and modernizing nuclear fuel fabrication facilities.

What CNS principle drives you to be successful?
Own the Outcome (good or bad) and Set High Standards. With these two principles, we are held accountable for our work and we make our environment better than we found it.

What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex or Y‑12?
Our sites have a rich history, so change isn’t easy. However, change is needed to ensure we are relevant and focused on areas required for improvement. Be patient and diligent in your efforts. Ensure that you are working daily on the items that are important to the mission, DOE, and NNSA since we represent them. Remember that what we do here is vital to global security, and you play a key role in protecting our country, our values, and our nation’s allies.

What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
Those who don’t know me well might be surprised to know that I am a strong Christian. I also have a passion for digital technology and nuclear technology. While both are core to my interests, I feel the most satisfied when I am solving problems or fixing issues (must be my engineering background).

We Are Mission Success: Reeves Easley-McPherson and Greg Roddahl

Posted: Monday, September 19, 2022 - 15:44

Reeves Easley-McPherson and Gregory Roddahl
Take five minutes to learn about emergency preparedness specialists Reeves Easley-McPherson and Gregory Roddahl. “I Am Mission Success” profiles share how each employee feels tied to the Pantex and/or Y 12 mission. All views and opinions are the employees’ own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

Sound leadership comprises several key factors: respect for others, a spirit of innovation, and a commitment to excellence.

That is exactly the approach Reeves Easley-McPherson and Greg Roddahl took to a recent assignment, with impressive results.

“Each employee brings their own unique set of skills,” Easley-McPherson said. “So, don’t be afraid to speak up. You might know of a new way to complete a task that is safer, saves time, or saves money.”

Not only that, Roddahl said; standing in the gap to make sure operations run smoothly has its own intangible rewards.

“There’s always something not working correctly,” he said. “Finding it and fixing it before it’s needed lets me know I’m supporting the mission.”

No small part of that mission is following directives. To that end, Easley-McPherson and Roddahl considered the intent of the Department of Energy order that requires an alternate emergency operations center.

“[The order] does so as a part of a life safety and continuity-of-operations goal,” Easley-McPherson explained.

Using that order as a foundation, the men and their teams incorporated the Joint Information Center, two classrooms, and a remote workspace into the new facility in downtown Amarillo.

“I think of it as a Swiss Army knife or multifunction facility that exceeds the requirements of the DOE order,” Easley-McPherson said.

Their innovation not only created a more useful space, but will also save taxpayers some $800,000 over the life of its 5-year lease. That’s something of particular importance to Roddahl.

“Take ownership and pride in what you do,” Roddahl said. “Then, you can take satisfaction in it.”

Better efficiency and reduced cost – truly mission success!

When did you start working for CNS? If you didn’t begin in your current role, briefly describe your career progression.
Easley-McPherson: “I started working for Pantex in May 2016 in the Emergency Management Department. Growing up in Amarillo, I was surrounded by Pantex employees who were leaders in my church, in Scouting, and as neighbors. Their character and work in the community was admired. I had former Pantexans such as Marvin Willis and Paul Wagner as mentors while growing up. I am proud to be able to follow in their footsteps.”

Roddahl: “I earned my degree in environmental engineering from Texas Tech University and was looking for somewhere I could use it. I began working at Pantex in 2001. I worked for Environmental Projects and the 35-Account Testing Lab before taking a position in Emergency Management in 2010.”

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? Describe how your career compares or contrasts to your expectations.
Easley-McPherson: “I started in Emergency Management in January of 2001. Since then, I have worked at the local, state, and now the federal level in this field. It is an environment of train and prepare, and then test. The drills and exercises we do test the training and preparation. If there is a miss in a drill or exercise, we step back, re-evaluate, and begin the process again. It is an exciting and dynamic career.”

Roddahl: “I obtained my degree to work as an engineer, and I’ve managed to use the skills I learned to be successful in all the roles I’ve had at Pantex. I thought I would be designing drinking-water treatment plants, and I was able to use the chemistry classes and labs to help being successful in the wet-chemistry lab. Now I’ve learned a great deal about how DOE wants their emergency management programs to be run and interacted with other sites and state programs to be successful here.”

What is your favorite aspect of your work environment?
Easley-McPherson: “At Pantex, my work and what I am able to contribute are appreciated and respected. I hear ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ from my management team often. This is a trait that most managers outside of Pantex miss¬¬—you get more from your employees with respect and a sincere ‘thanks.’”

Roddahl: “I enjoy the open-endedness of the work and the variety of tasks to accomplish. While I prefer a stable routine, I also wouldn’t like doing the same task every day forever.”

What advice or encouragement would you give to a new employee or someone considering applying for a career here?
Easley-McPherson: “Pantex is an exciting and unique place to work. In addition to our mission work, we have everything a small municipality would have, such as fire and EMS, police, waste management, transportation, food service, and utilities. Also, no two days are the same — the work is challenging and rewarding.”

Roddahl: “Pantex is a great place to work as a career, or you can move to a new job as your life situation changes.”

As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
Easley-McPherson: “I was always willing to help.”

Roddahl: “I’d like to be remembered for the same things I value in others: integrity, trust, and respect.”

PXFD climbs stairs to honor 9/11 first responders

Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - 15:41

Stair climb honoring 9/11 firefighters

First responders from Pantex Fire Department wore their gear for a very special reason this past Saturday.

The group of Pantex firefighters came together in a John C. Drummond Center stairwell to participate in a stair climb honoring the hundreds of New York City firefighters and first responders who died during the attacks on September 11, 2001.

The A-shift showed up in full gear and each firefighter climbed up to the third floor and back down 10 times. While this memorial climb may not represent the true number of flights and steps climbed by first responders on September 11 (110 flights), the Pantex firefighters completed their climb in tribute to what those brave men and women did that day.

Pantex firefighters completed their climb in tribute to what those brave men and women did that day

I am Mission Success: Amanda Morgan

Posted: Tuesday, September 13, 2022 - 15:32

Amanda Morgan

Take 5 minutes and learn about CNS's Amanda Morgan, Pantex High Explosive Manufacturing senior manager. All views and opinions are the employees own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

Congratulations to Pantexan Amanda Morgan who was recognized by the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce as a member of the 2022 Top 20 Under 40.

This award is given annually to area early career professionals who demonstrate professional excellence and bring value to the Amarillo business community.

Morgan got her start at Pantex as an intern while working on her undergraduate degree.

An Amarillo native, she graduated from Caprock High School and went on to receive a degree in chemical engineering from the University of Texas and a master of business administration from West Texas A&M University.

After completing a second internship with Frito Lay, Morgan started full time with Pantex.

She has worked in High Explosives Manufacturing for 16 years — the last 10 as senior manager.

Why are you mission success?
I strive every day to give my best and accomplish the job safely, securely, and with a high level of quality. I always tell everyone that works for me that product delivery on-time doesn’t count if we didn’t present our best effort or compromised safety, security, and quality. It is always worth the extra check to make sure you are giving your best work to the next level.

What daily task (specific meeting, report, etc.) lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission? How/why does that task let you know you’re working toward the mission?
We have a daily production meeting which helps to see how groups before/after your process are progressing and helps to understand the impact your product has on their work. It is very evident in that meeting when we are meeting our mission or when we are falling short in areas. It also helps us to have input on priorities in case they have shifted.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
Not at all. My original goals were to be an accountant or a lawyer. I quickly learned during a high school accounting class that I did not want to do that job long term. It was during that time I learned about chemical engineering from my physics teacher. Definitely never thought I would be working with explosives but always knew I wanted to be more on the specialty, research side of things than full chemical plant production.

As an employee, what do you want to be remembered for?
Always helping. Whether it be helping to get the right POC, teaching someone about a process, etc., just having people know that they can come to me or ask me and get some assistance.

What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex or Y-12?
Listen and take it all in. Learn from as many people as you can and be genuine with your questions and willingness to learn the mission.

What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?
I still have small kids at home, so I typically don’t have a lot of time outside of their activities. When I get the chance, I enjoy reading and going to the movies.

Lessons learned from summer interns

Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2022 - 09:40

Pantex interns discussing their projects

The temperature may not feel like it, but summer is winding down. More than 50 interns at Pantex and Y-12 recently wrapped up their two month work experience with an Intern Expo. A few share what lessons they learned and memories they take with them.

Steven Keosouvanh, West Texas A&M University, major: computer information systems and business analytics

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
I was surprised at how happy each organization is to improve their workers so they can grow to be better and find their passions. I have heard so many stories of people starting in one place and pursuing their careers start to finish here and stories of people who became passionate in a different area of work then changing careers all while at CNS.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
For me, I enjoyed building workflow process with my intern team. It was great to have an intern team that was so motivated and collaborated so well together. I don’t think we could have completed our task alone if it weren’t for everyone’s motivation and the support system we had in Project Controls.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
The mission we have here is important, and Pantex and Y-12 are great places to work for those with experience and those who are new. It is built into the core philosophy of the company to embrace both ends of the experience spectrum.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Be clear when speaking to people and make it as unambiguous as possible so people can see my vision. I hope to take this advice and make an impact using technology and data driven thinking in my career.

Jonas Rivero, West Texas A&M University, major: mechanical engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
My biggest surprise during this internship was having the encouragement to ask any question and having coworkers and supervisors open to answering all of those questions. I felt comfortable reaching out to anybody without feeling like I was going to annoy someone, and I knew they encouraged asking more questions.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
I most enjoyed the tours provided to us through the internship. I had various tours and saw some very impressive things that I was very grateful to see.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
I think there is a very high importance for college students to consider a field that supports the mission because there are various opportunities. From having the opportunity to further your educational studies to moving on to another role within the plant, the opportunities are endless, and you have an important task no matter what role you have.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
A big piece of advice I received from a veteran employee was that there are a lot of knowledgeable people here, and you can learn something from everyone. I really listened to that advice and have really listened to what anybody who I encountered had to say. I’ve learned a lot of things that you can say I wouldn’t have learned in school, and I’m grateful I was able to experience this.

Serée Sturdivant, Texas Tech University, major: chemical engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
The thing that surprised me the most during my internship was the people. How nice and knowledgeable everyone was, how willing everyone was to help me get started and help me connect academic knowledge with industry needs and applications, and just how much I genuinely enjoyed working with my department. Everyone I reached out to wanted to help me however they could and taught me so much about where I fit in to the mission. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work/interact with!

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
During my internship, I most enjoyed getting to design an advanced chemical reactor/chemical processing system for one of my projects. It was a true design project and pushed me to the limits of my current knowledge and capabilities, which allowed me to push beyond those limits and learn so much more.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
It is important that college students consider a field that supports the Pantex and Y-12 mission because the mission is integral to our continued safety and freedom as a country. There are so many different paths within Pantex/Y-12 — no matter what major you are or what your interests are, there is a place for you! You do your best work and are most happy/fulfilled in the work that you do when you are passionate about the mission your work supports.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Some work advice I learned from a veteran employee was more by what he did than what he said. My manager, Steve Velarde in Mission Engineering, tackled every problem that arose with patience, knowledge, and understanding. He always had solutions to issues that arose along the processes of the two projects that I was working on and gave me a completely different perspective on how to lead with direction while allowing maximum creativity and learning. I want to simulate his work/leadership style while I begin my career.

Delaine Stiltner, Tennessee Technological University, major: civil engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
The initial shock of the security aspects of the job were a bit surprising at first. Security at Y-12 is one of the reasons this job is so unique.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
I enjoyed getting to work on several different projects this summer. I feel that I have grown significantly and have learned so much over the short time span of my internship. My favorite part about my job was getting to meet so many great people and working with different types of engineers!

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12?
Working at Pantex and Y-12 helps provide a service to our community and our country while allowing yourself to grow in a supportive and family driven environment.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Some of the best advice I learned was to always ask questions and make sure you document everything!