Y-12 and UT plan for the future

photoConsolidated Nuclear Security President and CEO Jim Haynes at Y-12’s New Hope Center before today’s signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Tennessee.

The University of Tennessee and the Y-12 National Security Complex renewed their vows Thursday, promising to work together to help each other and accomplish things they can’t do apart.

The result was a newly signed Memorandum of Understanding, an umbrella agreement for partnerships and projects, shared personnel appointments, educational opportunities, and a whole range of activities planned for the future.

The university and the nuclear weapons plant have collaborated on programs and projects for at least 20 years, but Thursday’s ceremony was prompted, at least in part, by the change in leadership at the Oak Ridge plant.

Consolidated Nuclear Security, a corporate partnership headed by Bechtel, took over management of Y-12 on July 1, replacing Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services as the government’s chief contractor.

“These partnerships are extremely important,” UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek said at the ceremonies at Y-12’s New Hope Center.

Cheek borrowed a “brick-by-brick” reference from UT Football Coach Butch Jones in describing the university’s future with Y-12. He said his vision is to add more and more substance to a foundation that already exists between the two institutions.

The chancellor said UT’s relationship with Y-12 involves every college on campus, not just the obvious ones like Nuclear Engineering. He cited Communications, Veterinary Medicine and Social Work, although he didn’t go into detail. Cheek read a letter from an English professor, thanking him for the broadening opportunity that the partnership afforded him at Y-12.

Bill Tindal, the CNS site manager at Y-12 who holds a master’s degree in engineering management, is among many at the Oak Ridge plant who’ve furthered their education at UT.

The two institutions have also been research partners at times, sharing a patent for a new type of chemical sensor and working on nuclear security applications.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.