Pantex Blog

I am mission success: Curtis Chamberlain

Posted: Thursday, July 14, 2022 - 10:59

Curtis Chamberlain
Take five minutes and learn about CNS's Curtis Chamberlain, production manager, at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

Curtis Chamberlain has spent his entire Pantex career in Production and says it is the only mission he has known. He got his start as a production technician almost 21 years ago working on the W62 and W87 programs and then was promoted to Production section manager of the W62, W78, B53, W80, and Joint Test Assembly (JTA)/test bed activities. For the past 11 years, he has served as a production manager and in his daily role oversees his departmental activities within Weapon Operations. He has worked on almost all of the weapons systems and support systems.

He says Production must work together to ensure everyone crosses the finish line.

Recently, the Pantex Production Optimization effort was commissioned to lead and establish a path forward to deliver and maximize our production throughput this year and into the future. The focus of the effort is on both tactical and strategic improvements that will further optimize weapon production activities at the site and position the plant to deliver production output on significant increases in future work.

“If one weapon system doesn’t meet their deliverables, we all fail as a team,” Chamberlain said.

One thing that stands out for Chamberlain during his time at Pantex are times when he’s had the opportunity to see the JTA final product in use.

“It was an honor and a privilege to see all the effort, activity, and collaboration that was needed to ensure a successful flight occurred.”

When asked what he sees as the most important part of his role in the mission work at Pantex, Chamberlain said “getting our product to the military with the best quality possible to ensure the defense of our nation.”

What daily task (specific meeting, report, etc.) lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission? How/why does that task let you know you’re working toward the mission?

I like helping my Production section managers with their work problems, getting a hold of the right people and removing anything that may be in their way causing them frustrations, and trying to ensure they can do their job and not worry about anything else.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.

I honestly didn’t know what I envisioned as a young adult. I joined the Air Force at 18 to figure it out but that didn’t help. When I left the military, I started working as a diesel mechanic which helped me get my diesel technician certification. I worked at Caterpillar for a few years before applying at Pantex and obtaining a PT position, and I have been here ever since.

What is your favorite aspect about your work environment? How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met?

My favorite part is working together as a team with many Pantex and external entities to set and meet schedules with the military and DOE, knowing that the product we are working on is making our country a safer place by maintaining our nation’s stockpile.

What’s your top bucket list item and why?

I would like to complete hiking all 53 14,000+ ft. mountains in Colorado with a friend—I am over half way there, even though the actual number is a bit of a controversy. I enjoy the challenge of hiking the mountains. It is a beautiful environment, and it is me against the mountain; nobody can help me get to the top except for myself.

What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?

I enjoy spending time with my family on vacations, visiting new breweries and restaurants at those locations with my wife, and experiencing new things. I have also started working towards obtaining my private pilot’s license; it is another way to work on overcoming some of the challenges I have with heights.

I am Mission Success: Chris Howard

Posted: Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 16:29

Chris Howard, HESE project manager
Take five minutes and learn about Chris Howard, HESE project manager, at Pantex. All views and opinions are the employee’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

Chris Howard is making an impact on the landscape of Pantex as the new project manager of the line item High Explosive Science and Engineering (HESE) Building. The main construction portion of this project will start this summer and supports the High Explosives Center of Excellence for Manufacturing within the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Howard has been at Pantex for 15 years and has worked in the Project Management organization the entire time.

“The advantage of working in this organization is we touch every part of the plant,” he said. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on IT, security, maintenance, and environmental projects throughout the plant.”

Previously, Howard was the portfolio manager for the Bay Cell Portfolio, which is upgrading the Flame Detection System, High Pressure Fire Loop, and the Radiation Air Monitoring System in the bays and cells. The upgrade of these systems is reducing risks associated with legacy systems.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.

From my second year of college, I planned to work in the construction field, but the locations of the construction projects are not what I thought. I never thought I would work on oil and gas projects in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Dubai or hotel and casino projects in Las Vegas. I also never thought I would be working at Pantex. I grew up in Amarillo and never gave much thought to working here. Our kids were in second grade and kindergarten when we started talking about moving to Amarillo from Las Vegas, and Pantex was one of the few places that met our goals. You never know where your career path will lead.

What is your favorite aspect about your work environment? How does that aspect make you know the mission is being met?

I enjoy the actual construction phase and the team working together to put the plan into action. Every construction project either directly touches a system supporting the mission or a support organization need so they can better support the mission.

What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex or Y-12?

I don’t think this applies to just work, but be on time, work hard, have a good attitude, learn from mistakes (both yours and others), ask questions, and be prepared.

What’s your favorite outside-of-work activity and why?

I enjoy time with the family, hunting, skiing, and occasionally mountain biking. All of these activities provide me an opportunity to unwind, relax, and enjoy a little friendly competition.

Modernization at Pantex – Part One

Posted: Monday, June 20, 2022 - 10:51

Modernization is a goal at Pantex as the site is transformed into a more modern, agile, and responsive asset for the nation. For more than a decade, the efforts to update and re-focus the vision of the future have been a major undertaking, and they are now being realized with new facilities, an expanded workforce, and an increase in production work.

There has been a large amount of both demolition and construction activities at Pantex as unused and 75-plus-year-old buildings are replaced with newer structures designed to handle increased production capabilities and bring the site up to date. The John C. Drummond Center (JCDC) is the largest and one of the newest buildings at Pantex, replacing more than 50 obsolete structures and housing more than 1,100 employees. Opened in 2018, it is already undergoing renovations to address future needs and accommodate additional employees.

Pantex Site Manager Jeff Yarbrough says, “The modernization of our stockpile means that our workload is we're adding a lot of new staff, a lot of engineers and scientists and support staff, and we need space for those people to work in. “We are repurposing a lot of the JCDC for space for CNS employees to support the modernization of the stockpile.”

VNR - Modernization


Pantexan Focus: Ralph Eubanks

Posted: Monday, June 20, 2022 - 09:49

Meet Ralph Eubanks, metrology technician in the dimensional lab at Pantex. He is one of the Pantex team of metrology specialists who works to exceed customers’ requirements and expectations. His primary role is to calibrate cutters (milling bits) that are used in the various machining operations throughout Pantex.

Ralph Eubanks works as a technician in the dimensional lab in Pantex’s Metrology group.
Ralph Eubanks works as a technician in the dimensional lab in Pantex’s Metrology group.

Internship program bridges military and civilian service

Posted: Monday, June 13, 2022 - 10:11

Pantexan Maria Holt
Pantexan Maria Holt was the first intern-to-employee in the SkillBridge intern program, a partnership of the Department of Defense and CNS. After 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, Holt now works at Pantex in Environmental Compliance.

More than two years ago, Pantex and Y-12 began a partnership with the Department of Defense SkillBridge internship program to help service members transition to civilian employment by spending their final six months of active duty as interns. SkillBridge interns complete a specialized training program that fits their background and career goals, as well as the partnering organization’s goals.

Since March 2020, Pantex and Y-12 have hosted 31 SkillBridge interns, and 25 of them have transitioned to full-time employment. Another 11 are currently completing internships, with nine more scheduled to begin interning soon.

Emily Graber, director of Engagement, Inclusion, and Performance, is the program manager for CNS's SkillBridge. She said partnering with DOD on the program builds the sites’ capabilities. CNS can tap into a talent pool of transitioning service members to recruit not just interns but employees who understand the foundation of CNS imperatives and values.

“The program is a wonderful opportunity for service members to easily transition into a new norm of life after their commitment to our nation during their time with DOD,” Graber said. “It is an honor to see the success of our partnership with DOD and each and every SkillBridge intern as they continue their service to our nation in a slightly different capacity.”

Maria Holt at Pantex was the first SkillBridge intern to transition to full-time employment through the CNS program. She retired from the U.S. Air Force in August 2020 after 20 years of service in bioenvironmental engineering. By then, she had already completed her internship and was hired by Pantex Environmental Compliance as an environmental science specialist.

The goal of SkillBridge is to ensure that service members have employment set up well in advance of their military departure. Holt said her transition process began two years before she left the military. She selected Pantex for its proximity to her hometown of Dumas, Texas, where her husband is a police officer, as well as for its patriotic mission.

“It’s been a good transition,” Holt said. “DOD and DOE are similar in how they manage, so I still apply the ideals of teamwork and completed staff work. I just don’t have to wear a uniform anymore.”

After spending 29 years in the U.S. Army, Jay Aspray is now the recruiter for all SkillBridge interns at Pantex and Y-12. Aspray said he was able to quickly align his vast military experience to the Y-12 mission.

“The benefits of the program are significant in that it allowed me to be fully operational by the time my internship was complete, so I could immediately begin providing Y-12 with meaningful and impactful work once I was hired full time,” he said.

John Toliver III spent 14 years in the U.S. Army before deciding to take another path, becoming one of the first three SkillBridge interns. He is now the program manager for U.S. Special Operations and Interagency Partnerships. He said learning the language and culture of Y-12 reminds him of learning to speak Arabic to better understand the culture of his partner forces.

“Learning the language and culture of the NSE, CNS, and Y-12 is priceless as I join this dynamic team,” Toliver said. “The internship helped me determine that CNS was a right fit for me and my family and that I was a right fit for CNS.”