NNSA Blog

The administrator saw wind turbines at Sandia National Laboratories like this model.

NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (Ret.) visited NNSA’s New Mexico laboratories last week. At Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Klotz addressed the workforces of both labs on how the FY17 budget request supports NNSA’s missions, and he got a first-hand look at some of the labs’ latest work.

On Monday, SNL’s manager for wind energy technologies David Minster and technical lead for the offshore wind energy program Todd Griffith showed Klotz Sandia’s most recent wind achievement, the design of a new low-cost offshore 50-MW wind turbine. SNL Director Jill Hruby hosted the visit and shared updates in the areas of cyber and nuclear weapons activities at Sandia. At an all-hands meeting Klotz spelled out NNSA’s top priorities and expectations for the future, just in time for Sandia, California’s 60th anniversary on March 8.

On Tuesday Klotz toured LANL’s Technical Area 55, the nation's only plutonium science, technology, and manufacturing facility. Los Alamos Director Charlie McMillan and Deputy Principal Associate Director for Weapons Programs Brett Kniss showed Klotz recent advancements in safety and security at LANL’s plutonium facility building 4 (PF-4). The updates will help LANL better support NNSA in stockpile stewardship, plutonium processing, nuclear materials stabilization, materials disposition, nuclear forensics, nuclear counter-terrorism, and nuclear energy missions.

For more information about NNSA activities, follow NNSA Administrator Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz on Twitter.

Mar 14, 2016 at 5:00 pm

NNSA Blog

The FIRST Robotics competition in Kansas City, March 10-12, resembled a medieval battlefield as nearly 50 high school teams battled robot against robot to scale the opponent’s defenses and capture their tower and flag.

For the past 10 years, Kansas City National Security Campus employees have volunteered their time to mentor area high schools throughout the process of building the robots and testing them at the FIRST (“For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology”) national robotics competition.

In constructing the robot, the competition teaches students - and mentors - how to solve engineering design problems in an interesting and competitive way. It’s a fun, career-molding program with a big impact.

NNSA Blog

NNSA Blog

Mar 14, 2016 at 2:22 pm

After the March 11, 2011, Japan earthquake, tsunami, and ensuing nuclear reactor accident, the United States sent Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) emergency response teams.

The NNSA teams included nuclear experts in predictive modeling, monitoring, sample collection, laboratory analysis, and data analysis and interpretation. The deployment marked the first time NNSA’s full complement of radiological consequence management capabilities was fielded during a large-scale nuclear emergency.

For 10 weeks following the disaster, NNSA scientists logged more than 500 flight hours in U.S. Air Force aircraft and had primary responsibility to monitor radiological fallout and provide data to the U.S. and Japan. Scientists also collected thousands of field and soil samples.

This response also marked the first time that NNSA’s Nuclear Incident Team worked directly with the White House and the highest levels of departmental leadership during a radiological response. Guided by years of planning and training, the response teams successfully completed their mission and built important partnerships with the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, the Government of Japan, the Department of Defense, and other departments and agencies within the U.S. government.

Since the events five years ago, NNSA & DOE have worked to improve training, equipment, methods, and response organizations to implement lessons learned from our response to the Fukushima accident. The response collaboration engendered an enduring partnership between the Office of Nuclear Incident Response and its counterparts in Japan, and stimulated dialogue that continued recently with the Fourth Meeting of the U.S.-Japan Bilateral Commission on Civil Nuclear Cooperation.

Mar 11, 2016 at 3:00 pm

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