(Submitted) Oak Ridge, Tenn.—When a major manufacturer in national security wants to augment its technology development and innovate its business processes, where does it turn? For Y-12 National Security Complex, the answer was just down the road at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT).
“We have long recognized the importance of academia as a key resource in supplying creative and dedicated talent,” said Gene Sievers, Y-12 site manager. “UT, specifically because of their pool of talent, facilities, and proximity, is well positioned to be a primary partner in advancing applied science and engineering and developing innovative business approaches.”
The $9.5 million agreement between UT and Consolidated Nuclear Security, which operates the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas and Y-12 in Oak Ridge, Tenn. for the National Nuclear Security Administration, will run through September 2026. The arrangement will allow both sites to access the breadth and depth of UT’s intellectual talent and research facilities.
Partnership is mutually beneficial
Historically, Y-12 has partnered with UT on various projects; however, this contract significantly streamlines the arrangement. UT is a recognized leader in research and student engagement, and Pantex and Y-12 can now access those resources—from engineering and materials science to business analytics and professional development and training.
“This partnership will provide many opportunities for us to contribute in a meaningful way to national security,” said UT Vice Chancellor for Research Deborah Crawford. “We look forward to supporting national security while providing exceptional experiences for our students and staff.”
UT’s research capabilities are strategically aligned with the mission of Y-12. The two organizations have collaborated on more than 30 research and development programs spanning materials research, nuclear nonproliferation, and intelligence to cyber security, advanced manufacturing, and supply chain management, among others.
Strengthening the workforce
The longstanding partnership has also strengthened the workforce pipeline to Y-12 for UT students. More than 900 UT graduates work at Y-12—almost 300 since CNS began managing and operating Y-12 in 2014. UT also provides ongoing workforce development for Y-12 employees through the Master’s in Systems Engineering cohort program as well as professional training certificates and professional development workshops and seminars.
The goal of this most recent collaboration is for UT to support Y-12 in driving the implementation of new technologies, while Y-12 serves as an incubator for innovations applied to key national security mission areas. For taxpayers, the result is a more efficient use of funding to accelerate development and innovation in the Nuclear Security Enterprise.