More than 500 Pantexans and their families attended Pantex Night at the Don Harrington Discovery Center Sunday. The event featured an exhibit on the extinct Megalodon shark as well as a mummy in the Lost Egypt exhibit. B&W Pantex sponsored the shark exhibit.
Quality New Mexico, the New Mexico Performance Excellence Awards Administrator, has announced 13 quality award recipients for 2013, including two Sandia organizations.
Sandia’s Tech Area V earned a Roadrunner award. Roadrunner recipients demonstrate substantial progress in building sound and systematic processes to strengthen overall operations and attain improved outcomes. This is evaluated through an assessment and site visit.
Sandia’s Payroll Dept. earned a Piñon award. Piñon recipients demonstrate commitment and show evidence through their assessment and site visit that they are using systematic processes and data to strengthen overall operations and attain improved outcomes.
The New Mexico Performance Excellence Awards are modeled after the Malcolm Baldridge National Quality Award. They provide applicants with feedback on strengths and opportunities for improvement, based on the time-tested Baldridge Criteria for Performance Exellence.
Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers are investigating the complex relationships between the spread of the HIV virus in a population (epidemiology) and the actual, rapid evolution of the virus (phylogenetics) within each patient’s body.
The team models the uninfected population using traditional differential equations on the computer; this is done for computational speed, because an agent-based component is much more demanding. The team has developed novel ways of estimating epidemics dynamics such as who infected whom, and the true population incidence of infection versus mere diagnoses dates.
About the photo:
Scanning electron micrograph of HIV-1 budding (in green) from cultured lymphocytes. The image has been colored to highlight important features. Photo credit: C. Goldsmith, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) was awarded the 2013 Non-Conventional Threat (NCT): CBRNe Capability Award. This award is one of several given annually by IB Consultancy (IBC), a company that provides defence and security services and organizes related events worldwide to connect businesses, governments, NGOs and subject matter experts. The CBRNe Capability Award is given to a country or organization for improving its conventional, biological, radiological and nuclear explosives (CBRNe) capability, or for initiating or executing a capability development program that impacts another country or organization.
Some of the criteria for the award include proven end-user benefit; lasting impact on the CBRNe capability of a country, region or group of countries; and proven efficiency with regards to cost and avoiding duplication with other forms of assistance and/or development. Also nominated for the award were programs from the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) and the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA). SLD’s capacity-building work in the area of nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear security was selected as the winner for the award in September 2013.
NNSA’s SLD program works to strengthen the capabilities of partner countries to combat the illicit trafficking of special nuclear and other radiological materials at international border crossings and checkpoints. SLD accomplishes its mission by providing partner countries with radiation detection equipment, communications systems and training that will enable them to respond effectively to radiation alarms. The program also provides partners with support to further develop their capability to operate and maintain these detections systems over the long-term. To date, SLD has equipped 500 sites in more than 50 countries with radiation detection equipment.
About the photo:
The CBRNe Capability Award is presented to Elly Melamed (middle) and Dick Pappas (right) of the Office of the Second Line of Defense. The award was accepted on behalf of SLD by Guy Roberts (left).
Four of Popular Science’s 100 best innovations from 2013 are from NNSA national laboratories. Los Alamos National Laboratory’s MiniMAX was recognized in the Security category as the world’s smallest, most portable X-ray machine. Sandia National Laboratories was recognized in the Engineering category for its fiber-optic network, the world’s largest high-speed LAN, and in the Security category for its non-detonable fertilizer formula. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer was used in most of the IEDs found in Afghanistan. A Sandia engineer developed a fertilizer that uses iron sulfite in the mixture, suppressing detonation. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory was recognized for creating the first-ever retinal prosthesis, or bionic eye.
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A group of Pantex engineers spent their Saturday putting on an annual engineering workshop, known as S’More Engineering, for Amarillo-area Girl Scouts.
The engineers helped the Girl Scouts with several projects that demonstrated fundamental engineering concepts. One challenge was an egg drop, in which the girls built structures that would allow an egg to survive a one-story drop. Another activity, called Angry Birds, involved building catapults and other launching devices that re-created the popular mobile game app.
NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held visited Pantex Thursday and during an all hands meeting he told employees that they are supported and appreciated. “It is important to me to tell you thanks for what you do, because we don’t do that enough. The work done here is profoundly important to the security and well-being of our nation,” Held said.
After the meeting, he toured plant facilities and visited with employees at the NNSA Production Office.
After several years of collaborative work, the Kansas City Plant has implemented an innovative solution that integrates the Personal Identification Verification (PIV) badge by combining logical and physical access based on the Smart Card technology.
This work was recently honored by the Kansas City Business Journal’s 2013 KC ImpacT Award, which recognizes organizations that use technology to solve problems.
It's typically too expensive to replace existing physical access systems since they tend to be ingrained in the infrastructure. However, the move to the National Security Campus provided a unique opportunity to implement this solution. As a result, KCP is the first site within the DOE to integrate all the appropriate databases to seamlessly provide physical and logistical access in a streamlined process.
This effort has directly impacted the success of employees relocating to the National Security Campus and will ultimately result in a cost savings of $1 million.
Securing nuclear materials takes a global effort and coordination between technical and policy experts. To support effective nuclear security worldwide, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NIS) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) co-sponsored the second International Workshop on Nuclear Forensics Methodologies at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., Oct. 28 through Nov. 8, 2013.
Nuclear forensics helps law enforcement investigations of incidents in which nuclear or other radioactive material is found outside of regulatory control. Nuclear forensics experts seek to uncover the process history and origin of nuclear and other radioactive material.
Workshop participants engaged in hands-on laboratory exercises and attended interactive demonstrations of fundamental concepts of nuclear forensic methodologies. Participants also worked in teams during a mock nuclear smuggling event and forensic investigation. As the workshop progressed, instructors covered more complex nuclear forensics concepts, such as advanced physical measurements, analysis and interpretation.
Experts from Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest national laboratories collaborated with representatives from the IAEA, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, the United Kingdom Atomic Weapons Establishment, the European Commission’s Joint Research Center Institute for Transuranium Elements, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop and present the workshop curriculum. This year’s 26 participants came from Algeria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA
Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA
Photo Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA
Reaching President Obama’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons requires overcoming technical challenges in verifying that disarmament has occurred. For more than a decade, the U.S. and U.K. have been working together to improve technical verification—an endeavor that balances the need to protect classified and sensitive information with the need to obtain enough data to inform the process.
Michele Smith, Deputy Director for the Warhead Dismantlement Transparency Program within NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security, recently shared technical verification lessons learned by the U.S. and U.K. She was joined by Mark Ruglys of the British Embassy to the United States. The presentation took place at a side event in conjunction with meetings of the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.
Smith and Ruglys specifically focused on the experience the two countries gained through a year-long monitored dismantlement exercise designed to test existing methodologies and identify areas where further development is needed. To be as realistic as possible, the exercise was performed in an operational nuclear facility with representative quantities of fissile material and simulated high explosives.
The full presentation (approximately 30 minutes, including Q&A) was webcast and currently is available at http://webtv.un.org/watch/technical-challenges-in-verifying-nuclear-disarmament/2769294424001/.