Due to the nature of the work done at Pantex, severe weather, especially area lightning strikes, will halt production. To monitor weather conditions, Pantex subscribes to two lightning-detection networks for cloud-to-cloud and cloud-to-ground strikes.
One of those lightning-detection networks is Earth Networks, which has lightning-detection systems located all over the United States. Pantex added additional lightning-detection sensors that include weather stations to the four corners of the Texas Panhandle. The cities of Texline (northwest), Follett (northeast), Friona (southwest), and Childress (southeast) were selected to meet that need.
These four new weather stations update every 30 seconds, and new photos from an HD SkyCam are updated every 15 minutes to a webpage that local schools can embed on their websites. The weather data can be used by the students and teachers at the respective schools to teach lessons such as basic meteorology, mathematical skills, and of course, earth science. It can also be a vital component in the schools’ use of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) in the classroom.
“I looked into these weather stations, the equipment they use, the range of the lightning-detection sensors, and how easy they are to deploy and use. I found that the equipment used is identical to the 250+ SchoolNet sites that I installed more than 20 years ago at a local TV station,” said Pantex Meteorologist Steve Kersh. “When we contacted the superintendents of the four schools to see if they were interested in helping us, they jumped at the idea, and it was approved quickly. I see this as a way to promote Pantex, to increase the sensitivity and reliability of the lightning network, and to give the schools a way to teach their students about the weather, math, and science.”
Kersh and Electromagnetics employee Wayne Blodgett visited each site and got the new equipment installed and working perfectly. The equipment is placed on top of the schools with the SkyCam pointed toward the horizon.
In Texline, Superintendent Terrell Jones was excited about the new weather station and sent Kersh an email once it was up and running. “I love the new station,” he said. “It is instant and has lots of very good information.”
The Texas Panhandle covers approximately 25,600 square miles (more than the state of West Virginia with 24,230 square miles), and weather conditions across that large an area can vary greatly. Pinpointing weather to one small area is very beneficial to people in that location. And that’s why Pantex allows public access to these sites as anyone with an internet connection can monitor local weather. There have already been reports that farmers and ranchers are using the local data to assist them with their livestock, along with preparing and maintaining crops.
Finally, it helps Pantex and many area students interested in STEM. By expanding the number of lightning sensors, and in turn, the stations, the effectiveness, range, and quality of the lightning data monitored and reported continues to increase. Going forward, all eyes are on the SkyCams and the possibility of adding more sites to gather weather data.
Check out the websites below.
A $10,000 donation to AmTech Career Academy by Pantex is furthering the site’s relationship with the school and will support the academy’s E-Sports and Robotics programs.
Kenny Steward, Pantex Deputy Site Manager, learned a bit about ESports from students during a recent visit.
AmTech is a state-of-the-art facility that serves students in Amarillo Independent School District in grades 9 to 12.
Engagement with the school helps CNS promote career opportunities for area students and may serve as a talent pipeline for hiring into Pantex careers, which is something that’s also being explored with other area high schools.
Assisting with mock interviews and advising senior engineering projects are just a few ways Pantexans are already engaged on the volunteer front.
Melissa Spence, a member of the Pantex Metrology group, is of several technicians who
calibrate on-site electronics.
The Pantex Metrology Department works daily to provide leadership and excellence in the science of measurement and its application in support of national security interests. Victor Cardoza and Melissa Spence are Metrology technicians in the electronics lab at Pantex. They and their coworkers calibrate all electronics used throughout the plant.
Victor Cardoza is a member of Pantex Metrology.
Pantex volunteers made a difference for four community members with ramps built for the Texas Ramp Project during the 2022 United Way Day of Caring
On April 29, Pantexans participated in the United Way Day of Caring. Teams built four ramps for individuals needing assistance getting in and out of their homes. The Day of Caring is a community-wide event and an opportunity for volunteers to make a real difference. CNS donated $4,000 to sponsor the projects.
Pantex Acting Deputy Site Manager Kenny Steward said, “As one of the largest employers in the Amarillo area, we have a responsibility to support our friends, neighbors, and fellow citizens in our local communities. We are honored to give back, whether through financial contributions or sweat investments, to those in need.”
There are Pantex employees who participated in Day of Caring because they feel it is important to give back to the community for personal reasons too. Alexi Khashan, section manager with Pantex Infrastructure, said, “My mother received a ramp from Texas Ramp Project, and it is important to me to be able to give back to the community.”
Instructor Brad Immel teaches a Conduct of Operations class to new production technicians in the Pantex Nuclear Incident Response Program facility.
Training is implementing creative solutions to serve Production’s significant personnel needs as it increases throughput as part of the Pantex Production Optimization effort.
“People are our most important piece of the puzzle. They enable us deliver the mission,” said Scott Elliott, Weapons Training senior manager. “We train those who put their hands directly on the units. This puts Weapons Training directly in the path of ensuring product is delivered in a quality and timely manner.”
Humans Resources is hiring more than 200 production technicians and other production support by the end of September. Those essential new hires are creating a challenge for Organization Development and Training.
To meet immediate needs, Training had to first realign the existing Weapon Training instructor and training schedule to support the most urgent programs.
“We implemented a visual status board in our training area that keeps everyone appraised of what is happening in the training bays to make sure that any scheduling conflicts affecting trainers, students, tooling, and materials can be addressed,” Elliott said. Some trainers have been taking on new roles in prioritized training classes.
Space was another issue, considering the need for social distancing, as well as available computers for new hires to complete computer-based training courses. Places such as the John C. Drummond Center auditorium and the Nuclear Incident Response Program facility are now being used to train production technicians.
Training also submitted and was approved for a Federal Acquisition Regulations deviation that allows Pantex to train on overtime, if necessary, to maintain critical program deliverables.
Elliot said the challenges taught him that there are always going be unforeseen issues and that teamwork ensures these issues are addressed.
“It takes diligence to constantly challenge yourself and your organization about our understanding of the future needs,” Elliot said. “This means we need to regularly discuss our role in the production chain and how can we ensure it stays on the proper path.”
Production technicians work on training in the JCDC auditorium.