On the 50th anniversary of the first American spacewalk June 3, a group of high school students gathered to talk via Skype with two NASA astronauts who themselves have spacewalked a dozen times during their careers.
The 20 East Tennessee students, participants in the 2015 ASM International Materials Camp held June 1-5, listened to astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Jeffrey Williams describe their experiences living and working aboard the International Space Station. The astronauts then answered questions related to experiments the teens performed on debris from the space shuttle Columbia, which broke apart during re-entry in 2003, killing all seven crew members.
Throughout the week, students used state-of-the-art equipment to perform failure analyses on materials from the Columbia. On Friday, the students presented the results of their failure analyses to professional judges and their family members. The winning team received iPhone cases printed from a three-dimensional printer at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and they will be guests at a future ASM meeting.
WUOT’s Brandon Hollingsworth interviewed Steve Dekanich of Y-12 and Steve McDanels, Chief of NASA Materials Science Branch at Kennedy Space Center about the camp and the importance of materials science. You can listen to the interview on WUOT’s website and read more about the camp at Y-12’s website.
The U.S. Department of State hosted the 6th Annual Generation Prague Conference in Washington, DC, on July 15-17, 2015. Generation Prague 2015: Bridging Divides, Defining the Future explored the potential for creative and cooperative solutions to global arms control and nonproliferation challenges with a focus on youth engagement. Participants interacted with a wide variety of U.S. and international experts and leaders in arms control and nonproliferation, including Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman. US Sherman had just returned to the United States after completing negotiations with Iran on the historic Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
The importance of NNSA contributions to U.S. nonproliferation and arms control efforts was highlighted in a number of speakers’ remarks, including an overview of U.S. efforts by Jon Wolfsthal, the National Security Council Senior Director for Arms Control and Nonproliferation, and Ambassador Adam Scheinman’s remarks regarding the 2015 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller, who addressed the group on the 70th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear explosion at the Trinity site in New Mexico, reminded attendees of the seriousness of nonproliferation and arms control efforts by the U.S. and its foreign partners.
In a spotlight on young leaders moderated by Katherine Croft, Senior Policy Advisor to the NNSA Administrator, entitled “Nuclear Explosive Testing in Meridia,” Dr. Julia Craven Jones of Sandia National Laboratories and Dr. Derek Haas of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory spoke about their experiences in the recent Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s (CTBTO) large-scale on-site inspection (OSI) Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14) that took place in Jordan last year. Dr. Jones was a member of the external Evaluation Team and Dr. Haas was a member of the Inspection Team at IFE14. They spoke about their personal experiences supporting the CTBT effort, the intersection of advanced technology and national security policy, and the importance of new generations of experts choosing to pursue arms control and nonproliferation as a career.
NNSA Director of Public Affairs Thom Metzger also spoke on a panel, “Shaping Opinions on Nuclear Weapons,” about current public views regarding nuclear weapons and how public engagement and information can positively impact views about national security issues, including NNSA’s highly technical missions. NNSA Public Affairs works to educate American public about the importance of NNSA’s mission and its value to U.S. national security.
The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) recently selected three small businesses for its new Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure and Cyber Security Support Blanket Purchase Agreement. The contract covers a wide spectrum of IT and Cyber Security support for NNSA’s Office of Information Management and has an estimated value of $250 million spanning five years.
The awardees are: Criterion Systems, Inc., of Vienna, VA; DKW Communications, Inc., of Washington, DC; and IntePros Federal, Inc., of Washington, DC. These awards are a direct result of the Secretary’s leadership and NNSA’s commitment to place small businesses first when acquiring mission-critical products and services. “Small businesses inject needed innovation and vitality throughout NNSA’s mission-critical activities and demonstrate our intent to expand partnerships with the small business community,” said NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz. “These are partnerships that strengthen our national security.”
In addition to being small businesses, IntePros Federal is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and all three awardees have team members which are SDVOSBs. NNSA placed a preference on contracting with SDVOSBs for the award of this IT contract, reflecting President Obama’s emphasis on expanding economic opportunities for our nation’s veterans and creating what the Administration calls, “our engines of job creation.”
Finally, NNSA’s IT and Cyber Security contract award demonstrates NNSA leadership’s continued commitment to improving acquisition management, and advances the policy preference of the Administration, Office of Management and Budget, the Department, and Congress for competition and fixed price contracting. By further committing to fair and open competition, NNSA continues to drive technical innovation, reduce costs, and increase the value of taxpayers’ dollars.
On Thursday, July 16, NNSA Administrator Klotz had a brown bag lunch with the 14 high school and college students participating in NNSA’s Minority Serving Institutions’ (MSI) Internship Program assigned to NNSA headquarters. The MSI Internship Program targets students who are majoring in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) disciplines, as well as non-technical majors such as business, political science, pre-law, and other non-STEM disciplines.
In 2015, NNSA placed 104 MSI interns throughout its sites. Since this program’s implementation in FY 2007, NNSA has placed more than 655 minority interns across the NNSA enterprise. These internships create excellent research opportunities for students to gain experience in their academic disciplines and afford NNSA an opportunity to groom potential employees for its workforce.
By participating in this program, NNSA hopes to increase the number of minority students pursuing science and technology degrees and to help establish the next generation of creative and committed leaders in meeting the demands of national nuclear security.
The DOE Headquarters Office of Aviation Management (OAM) awarded the following aviation management awards for performance in 2014.
The NNSA, Office of Secure Transportation, Aviation Operations Division, Albuquerque, NM, has, for the second consecutive year, won the U.S. Department of Energy Jeff Snow Aviation Program Memorial Award. The Division provides safe and secure transportation of nuclear weapons components, nuclear limited-life components, and Federal-agent task forces. It is vital to the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Program, and it maintains one aircraft and aircrew on 24-7 alert, ready to respond to nuclear incidents or accidents anywhere in the U.S.
Mr. Les Winfield, the NFO Federal Aviation Manager, is the winner of the 2014 DOE Federal Aviation Management Professional Award. Mr. Winfield provided outstanding management and oversight of the NSTec Aircraft operations at Nellis AFB, NV, and Joint Base Andrews, MD. Les initiated a process to implement an aviation-focused Safety Management System program by completing Stage I Certification of the International Standard for Business Aircraft Operations (IS-BAO). He then prepared and submitted the NFO team for IS-BAO Stage II certification, which they achieved with a performance cited for “clear evidence of buy-in to a proactive safety environment, and an overall outstanding flight department, will all pieces in place to pursue Stage III certification.”
Mr. Charles Lightfoot, a Pilot in Command, and Aviation Site-Supervisor for the National Security Technologies LLC (NSTec), Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL), Aviation Section-Joint Base Andrews, MD, is the winner of the 2014 John Cooley Aviation Operations/Support Professional Memorial Award. Chuck consistently demonstrated superior professionalism in Operational Support to this NFO Program, and he was the catalyst and conduit for promoting professional excellence through successful team dynamics. His approach to each mission requirement started with a collaborative effort between Contractor and Federal Management oversight. This approach produced the most effective plans that considered requirements from both aviation, and scientific perspectives, that ensured mission success.
Mr. Tim Rourke, the Chief of Aviation Safety, National Security Technologies LLC (NSTec), Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL), Aviation Section-Joint Base Andrews, MD, is the winner of the 2014 U.S. DOE Aviation Safety Professional Award. Tim’s systematic approach to safety and risk management in the RSL Aviation Section at both Las Vegas and Washington, DC locations, for both ground and flight safety, provides objective assessments of the operational risks, and recommendations for the necessary mitigations to reduce them to their lowest practical level. Tim’s single largest improvement to the RSL Aviation Safety culture was through the development of a means to allow him to identify, document, and track to conclusion, any issue, short-coming, or suggested improvement to the RSL Aviation organization.
The Department of Energy nominated these winners, in their respective categories for the 2014 GSA Federal Aviation Awards, and both Mr. Winfield and Mr. Rourke won! Mr Winfield was selected the winner of the 2014 Federal Aviation Professional Award in the Managerial Official Category. This award is presented annually to the best Federal employee in a managerial position whose primary duties involve management of a non-DoD Federal flight program. Likewise, the GSA judges selected Mr. Tim Rourke the winner of the 2014 Federal Aviation Professional Award in the Safety Official Category. This award is presented annually to the best Federal or Contract employee in an aviation safety position whose primary duties support a non-DoD Federal flight program.
Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, DOE Undersecretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator, visited the Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory in West Mifflin, PA on July 2, 2015.
Gen. Klotz toured through several test facilities where Bettis personnel reviewed ongoing development efforts to qualify techniques for in-situ repairs of nuclear powered submarine components, discussed full scale flow testing of prototypical reactor components, and demonstrated how state-of-the-art instrumentation and control equipment has been developed and deployed to aircraft carriers and submarines. Gen. Klotz was also briefed on the reactor design challenges that will require investment in advanced technologies to meet the future mission of the U.S. Navy.
During the visit the Bettis personnel demonstrated exceptional dedication to the support of the U.S. Navy's submarines and aircraft carriers. Their technical aptitude and strong engineering skills have enabled the Navy to safely operate nuclear powered ships for over 156 million miles and 6,700 reactor-years of operation since the USS NAUTILUS went to sea in 1955.
Bettis and the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Niskayuna, NY are operated by the Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation (BMPC) which is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bechtel National Inc. For nearly 70 years, both laboratories have been developing advanced naval nuclear propulsion technology and providing technical support to ensure the safe and reliable operation of our nation's submarine and aircraft carrier fleets. The Laboratories are solely dedicated to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program for the research, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of U.S. nuclear-powered warships.
The National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Production Office (NPO) Management and Operating (M&O) Contract Placement team recently received the 2014 Secretary of Energy Achievement Award for their efforts in fostering innovation through efficient procurement strategy.
Through hard work and dedication the NNSA Contract Placement Team was recognized for the extraordinary effort put forth in developing an efficient procurement strategy, awarding a highly competitive contract valued at over $22 billion, and commencing contract administration efforts on a vehicle that could save the Department of Energy over $3 billion dollars during the life of the contract.
“The NPO M&O Contract Team demonstrated outstanding leadership, professionalism and selfless commitment during the five-year period that was necessary for the design, implementation and award of this mission-critical contract,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management Bob Raines. “The principles espoused by this new contracting approach align contractor performance incentives with taxpayers’ best interests.”
By combining the management and oversight of two sites, historically managed under separate and distinct contract vehicles, NNSA will increase efficiencies and significantly reduce costs for years to come. The new contract structure, which includes a separate construction line item for the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) Project, will allow NNSA to manage this first-of-a-kind nuclear project more along the approach used in private industry giving NNSA increased confidence in delivering UPF by 2025 for a cost not to exceed $6.5 billion.
Read more about NNSA Production Office.
As part of the training that equips them to ensure safe operations, Savannah River Site radiological protection (RP) and fire department personnel recently conducted their annual “Live Burn” training exercises that simulate fires in facilities with chemical and radiological contamination. The Live Burn exercise took place at the Martinez-Columbia County Fire Rescue Training Facility in nearby Martinez, Ga., over four days, with three different scenarios per day, giving each shift the opportunity to participate.
“We had facilities from across the Site participate. This allows radiological protection inspectors, First Line Managers and Operators to receive the same training and learn the same techniques,” said Cristie Shuford, Manager, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) Site Radiological Training.
Each day began with a safety briefing, followed by sessions for the RP team to practice essential steps in the decontamination process, such as replacing a firefighter’s potentially contaminated respirator gear for a new, “clean” breathing cartridge.
After the practice session, each Live Burn exercise started with a fire in the training facility. In full bunker gear, firefighters faced many variables as they battled the fire and rescued “victims” (training dummies). Scenarios, for example, could involve a fire in a facility with radioactive materials, as well as toxic chemicals.
Training exercises, such as Live Burn drills, are conducted to ensure the safe operations of the facilities located within the Site's 300 square miles. Local communities also benefit from these extensive preparedness efforts, as SRNS has mutual aid agreements with adjacent counties, offering them emergency assistance from the SRS fire department and radiological protection when requested.
To recognize the accomplishments of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Department of Energy employees and highlight the importance of a diverse and inclusive workforce, DOE celebrated LGBT Pride Month with a program in the Forrestal auditorium on June 16. The theme of the program was "Stronger Together - Uniting the LGBT Community and Its Allies For A Stronger Workforce."
The program began with the presentation of colors by a Washington, D.C., based Joint Color Guard and the singing of the National Anthem by Matthew Swanson from the DOE Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer. In addition to comments from DOE GLOBE President Russell Ames, DOE GLOBE Vice President Tré Easton, and Director of the DOE Office of Economic Impact and Diversity Dot Harris, the program included remarks from Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall:
The Pride Month Celebration also included a keynote speech delivered by Dr. Kristina Johnson, former Under Secretary of Energy, the highest ranking out LGBT DOE official in history:
About Photo (From Left to Right): Tré Easton, DOE GLOBE VP and Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary for Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs; Dr. Kristina Johnson; Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall; Dot Harris, Director, DOE Office of Economic Impact and Diversity; and Russell Ames, DOE Globe President and Program Analyst for DOE Office of Science.
In addition to this program, President Obama issued his annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month proclamation.
On June 8, Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Sandia Field Office Manager Jeffrey Harrell presented a Best in Class NNSA Sustainability Award to a team from Sandia National Laboratories. The award was in the Innovation and Holistic Approach Category for the Materials Sustainability & Pollution Prevention (MSP2) program’s development of several data management systems designed to increase productivity for the MSP2 team and its customers. The data systems have helped reduce paper use, boosted employee productivity, and reduced the need to drive to remote locations to verify and view inventory.
The Innovation and Holistic Approach category recognizes methods and cross-disciplinary research at the site level that apply innovative ideas to tackle broad-based sustainability issues. The MSP2 program funded the development of the data management systems using revenues from the site-wide recycling program. Sandia was one of five Best in Class winners announced in the NNSA complex.
Photo: The team members are Sam McCord, Ralph Wrons, Sean Naegle, Debra Clifford, Ben St. Clair, Lynda Innis, Charles Snider, Chadwick Johnson, Matthew Smith, Jason Loyd, and Gabe Arrillaga.