Earlier this month, Associate Deputy Secretary John MacWilliams visited the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) in his role as Chief Risk Officer for the Department of Energy. He reviewed the various ways the NNSS contributes to the department's and NNSA's missions, including radiological detection, emergency management, and stockpile stewardship,

MacWilliams learned about the stockpile stewardship program work at NNSS and other mission work that supports national security. MacWilliams is shown here prior to his visit to one of the facilities that supports that work. From left are Melissa Hunt, NSTec Director Global Security; Raffi Papazian, NSTec Vice President; Kelly Cummins, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary; MacWilliams; Katharine Sartorius, Special Advisor to MacWilliams; Rick Higgs, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Ray Phifer, Assistant Manager Safety & Security, Nevada Field Office; and John Mallin, Deputy Assistant Manager Site Operations, NNSA Nevada Field Office.

 Piotr Wasiolek, Aerial Measuring System Section Manager at the NNSS Remote Sensing Laboratory explains how sophisticated pods attached to B-412 helicopter are used to measure radiation during surveys or an actual radiological event. From left, Wasiolek; Melissa Hunt, NSTec Director of Global Security; MacWilliams; Kelly Cummins, Senior Advisor, Office of the Secretary.

NNSS Fire Chief Charles Fauerbach explains NNSS's fire and rescue capabilities to MacWillams. The NNSS fire department personnel maintain certifications in structural firefighting, wild-land firefighting, and hazardous and radiological responses. In addition, through an agreement with Nye County, Nevada, the fire and rescue team provides support for highway accidents and transfer of patients from rural communities to Las Vegas hospitals. Pictured looking at several pieces of rescue equipment are, from left, Katharine Sartorius, Special Advisor to MacWilliams; Melissa Hunt, NSTec Director of Global Security; MacWilliams and Fauerbach.

Wildland fire response is one of the main certifications firefighters at the NNSS are trained to. From June to September wildland fires are a major concern over NNSS's 1,360 square miles. Here, MacWilliams, left, talks with NNSS fire chief Charles Fauerbach about specialized equipment his team uses. In the background are “pumpkin” (for their color) baskets. These are taken to parts of the site and filled with water. Helicopters will dip large buckets into the baskets and fly to the remote areas to drop water on fires.



Mar 10, 2016 at 11:00 am

Y 12 engineers Tucker Fritz, Sarah Cruise and Damita Mason (seated) accepted temporary assignments at Pantex. Shown with them are Pantex Engineering Manager Joe Papp and CNS Vice President of Engineering Mike Beck.

Three Y-12 employees recently completed temporary assignments at Pantex. Y-12 engineers Sarah Cruise, Tucker Fritz and Damita Mason spent three months at Pantex supporting Process Engineering.

With extensive deliverables facing Pantex Process Engineering, Mission Engineering management started considering options to address the situation. Many in the engineering workforce were working at full capacity, and the time-sensitive nature of many deliverables created an urgency to get support in place. Given the training and clearance requirements at Pantex and Y‑12, however, new engineers can’t be hired off the street and plugged into productive roles quickly, and that’s when the idea to send Y‑12ers to Pantex came up.

By early August, the engineers had accepted the new assignments, and by month’s end, they were attending crash-course training at Pantex. While the three‑month assignment required sacrifices, among them leaving family and friends, all three embraced the chance to work at Pantex.

Fritz, Cruise and Mason helped CNS meet several deliverables that would have been in jeopardy without their timely assistance. “All of them jumped right in, came up to speed quickly and provided significantly beneficial support to several deliverables,” said Pantex Senior Process Engineering Manager Mike Brinson. Read more about this effort on the Y-12 and Pantex websites.

Mar 9, 2016 at 5:04 pm

From a small group of 24 employees, Sandia/California has grown to include some 900 staff and 250 contractors, postdoctoral fellows, and students and has broadened in scope to play a vital role in Sandia’s overall missions.

On March 8, Sandia/California celebrates its 60th anniversary. The site, which began with a singular nuclear weapons mission, now supports all Sandia mission areas. Nuclear weapons still accounts for nearly half of the site’s work, along with strong programs in homeland security, transportation energy, cyber, and chemical and biological defense.

“From the Cold War to today, we’ve been providing exceptional service in the national interest in Livermore for six decades,” says California Laboratory Div. 8000 VP Marianne Walck. “It has been a remarkable 60 years for the site. I’m grateful to be part of the continuing success in contributing to the security and well-being of our nation and the world.”

To commemorate the 60th anniversary, Sandia/California on March 3 held an on-site event, “Honoring 60 Years of Engineering, Science, and Service.”

Read more about the celebration.

Mar 7, 2016 at 2:02 pm

More than 300 graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, university staff, and NNSA national laboratory experts congregated in Bethesda, Md., on Feb. 17-18 as the NNSA Office of Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation hosted the 2016 Stewardship Science Academic Programs Symposium.

The symposium highlighted accomplishments of the research office’s academic programs, promoted networking and fostered collaboration and community among participants, sponsors, NNSA’s labs, and the scientific community.

Associate Director of the Center for High Energy Density Science at University of Texas at Austin Dr. Michael Donovan attends SSAP every year and said it gets better each year.

“It is a win for our students, for the future of NNSA national labs, for the future of science and technology, and for the future of our great nation and the international community,” Donovan said.

Many of the office’s academic allies attended the symposium, including the Stewardship Science Academic Alliances Program, the High Energy Density Laboratory Plasmas Program, the National Laser Users' Facility Program, and the Predictive Science Academic Alliance Program.

After Director of the Office of Inertial Confinement Fusion Keith LeChien welcomed attendees on behalf of NNSA, the topically-organized sessions offered presentations on nuclear science from lasers to chemistry to astrophysics. (See the agenda and presentations here.)

Not only do participants share research and identify future collaboration opportunities, they’re part of the periodic reviews of the program and participants, and help assess progress and alignment with program objectives.

The annual event is free to all participants and presenters. Learn more about the symposium on its website, and read the 2016 Stewardship Science Academic Programs Annual report here.

Mar 4, 2016 at 4:33 pm

San Ramon's Dougherty Valley High School won the high school division for the third year in a row.

More than 240 students and 48 teams competed in the Sandia California Regional Science Bowls at Las Positas College, in Livermore, California. Hopkins Junior High School (Fremont, California) and Dougherty Valley High School (San Ramon, California) defended their titles as the reigning Science Bowl champions.

In the middle school division, Hopkins Junior High School clinched its spot as the undefeated champion for the ninth straight year with a come-from-behind victory during the last moments of competition. Dougherty Valley High School won the high school division for the third year in a row.

Both teams will receive an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to compete against top teams from across the nation at the DOE National Science Bowl.

Fremont's Hopkins Junior High School clinched its spot as the undefeated champion for the ninth straight year.


Mar 3, 2016 at 3:00 pm

The University of Kansas has entered into a new research collaboration that will position faculty and students to work with industry on technologies that enhance national security. 

A master collaboration agreement was signed Feb. 16 between KU and Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies, the managing contractor of the Kansas City National Security Campus.  The agreement will expedite future research contracts, enabling the two organizations to work more closely on research and development projects. It will also promote interaction and exchange between KU researchers and Honeywell engineers.

“Education is the foundation of a skilled workforce and helps fuel innovation,” said Robin Stubenhofer, VP of Engineering at Honeywell FM&T. “On behalf of Honeywell and our federal government customer, we are pleased to support STEM collaboration while advancing the national security mission.”  

The two organizations have already held a technical exchange day at the School of Engineering that featured selected KU department chairs, center directors and researchers making presentations on topics of mutual interest.  In addition, Honeywell is making its first long-term loan of advanced research equipment this spring, and is funding a research project at KU’s Center for Remote Sensing of Ice Sheets (CReSIS). 

Mar 3, 2016 at 2:00 am

Sandia National Laboratories manager Kristina Czuchlewski says Pattern Analytics to Support High-Performance Exploitation and Reasoning, known as PANTHER, has developed software that can represent remote sensor images, couple them with additional information and present them in a searchable form.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After a disaster or national tragedy, bits of information often are found afterward among vast amounts of available data that might have mitigated or even prevented what happened, had they been recognized ahead of time.

In this information age, national security analysts often find themselves searching for a needle in a haystack. The available data is growing much faster than analysts’ ability to observe and process it. Sometimes they can’t make key connections and often they are overwhelmed struggling to use data for predictions and forensics.

Sandia National Laboratories’ Pattern Analytics to Support High-Performance Exploitation and Reasoning (PANTHER) team has made a number of breakthroughs that could help solve these problems. They’re developing solutions that will enable analysts to work smarter, faster and more effectively when looking at huge, complex amounts of data in real-time, stressful environments where the consequences might be life or death.

PANTHER’s accomplishments include rethinking how to compare motion and trajectories; developing software that can represent remote sensor images, couple them with additional information and present them in a searchable form; and conducting fundamental research on visual cognition, said Kristina Czuchlewski, PANTHER’s principal investigator and manager of Sandia’s Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Systems Engineering and Decision Support.

Read more about the PANTHER team.

Mar 2, 2016 at 12:00 pm

Sandia California researchers Irina Tezaur and Ray Tuminaro analyze a model of Antarctica. They are part of a Sandia team working to improve the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

The Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets will make a dominant contribution to 21st century sea-level rise if current climate trends continue. However, predicting the expected loss of ice sheet mass is difficult due to the complexity of modeling ice sheet behavior.

To better understand this loss, a team of Sandia National Laboratories researchers has been improving the reliability and efficiency of computational models that describe ice sheet behavior and dynamics.

This research is part of a five-year project called Predicting Ice Sheet and Climate Evolution at Extreme Scales (PISCEES), funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Scientific Discovery through Advanced Computing (SciDAC) program. PISCEES is a multi-lab, multi-university endeavor that includes researchers from Sandia, Los Alamos, Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge national laboratories, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Florida State University, the University of Bristol, the University of Texas at Austin, the University of South Carolina and New York University.

Sandia’s biggest contribution to PISCEES has been an analysis tool, a land-ice solver called Albany/FELIX (Finite Elements for Land Ice eXperiments). The tool is based on equations that simulate ice flow over the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets and is being coupled to Earth models through the Accelerated Climate for Energy project.

Read more.

Mar 2, 2016 at 1:00 am

WASHINGTON, DC — Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (Ret.), Administrator of the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, hosted two members of the New Mexico congressional delegation on Feb. 18 for a tour of the aging facilities occupied by 1,200 NNSA employees at the Albuquerque Complex on Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico.

“NNSA’s missions—to maintain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent; to reduce global dangers from nuclear and radiological threats; and to power our nuclear Navy—are critical to protecting America's national security interests,” Klotz said following the tour. “Unfortunately, our highly talented and dedicated employees in Albuquerque are forced to work in substandard conditions at facilities that are decades old and inadequate for our current mission. The President's Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Request asks Congress to continue authorizing and appropriating the funds needed to design and construct a new facility for NNSA and other DOE employees in Albuquerque. A quality workforce deserves a quality workspace.”

Klotz told Sen. Martin Heinrich and Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham that the existing site does not meet the same facility standards maintained at other NNSA facilities. Portions of the current facility, a former military barracks, date back to the early 1950s and are in poor condition. Because of the age of the buildings, routine maintenance is costly and inefficient. He said construction of a new facility at Kirtland would allow for modern and efficient office space that will improve productivity, morale, and retention.

“The current NNSA Albuquerque Complex is too large, too old, and too costly to continue to effectively meet the needs of the agency,” Sen. Heinrich said after the tour of the current complex. “NNSA maintains the safety and security of our nation's nuclear deterrent, and their 1,200 NNSA employees who work here deserve a modern facility. I was proud to help secure more than $10 million for engineering and design of a new complex and look forward to seeing the new facilities take shape in the coming years."

“The 1,200 employees of the NNSA here at the Albuquerque complex perform some of the most important work on behalf of our national security mission,” said Rep. Grisham. “I appreciate what they do. I also appreciate the need to modernize the infrastructure and facilities where these employees work. Some facilities are over 60 years old with safety, health and quality of life concerns."

The Albuquerque Complex houses staff who support a wide variety of NNSA programs and offices including the Office of Secure Transportation, emergency operations, defense programs, management and budget, acquisition and project management, and nuclear security.

Feb 26, 2016 at 2:00 pm


Y-12’s Site Manager Bill Tindal (right) presents a $10,000 donation to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital CEO Keith Goodwin in support of the hospital’s capital campaign.

NNSA’s management and operations partner Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) continued its legacy of community giving this month with a $10,000 donation to the East Tennessee Children’s Hospital expansion project. CNS manages NNSA’s Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

CNS, Y-12, and employees are consistently invested in the local community, including donations of school supplies, giving for a children’s museum, and STEM outreach. This latest contribution will help expand services for children with chronic conditions such as cystic fibrosis and other special needs. The expansion will include 44 private neonatal intensive care unit rooms and a rooftop garden, and is expected to be completed in two years.

Annually, East Tennessee Children’s Hospital admits about 6,000 patients, sees 70,000 emergency patients, and performs about 12,000 surgeries along with 150,000 tests and physician office visits, according to the hospital’s website.

Watch the progress of the construction and learn more about the expansion, now supported in part by CNS, live here. Read more about CNS’ contribution here.

Feb 26, 2016 at 11:00 am