Source: The Daily Herald | May 9, 2018
Students at Columbia Central High School received a visit Wednesday from a celebrated alum, who held a discussion of life after high school and paving a path toward future success.
A chemical engineer by education, Reed Mullins is the senior director of production operations for Consolidated Nuclear Security at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.
The center is one of the nation’s most important national security assets. The 811-acre site contains the nation’s stockpile of highly enriched uranium and also performs nuclear non-proliferation missions.
Mullins shared the opportunities the students will have to contribute to the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, from developing cleaner and more efficient ways to produce energy to contributing to the first manned mission to Mars.
“It is really important that you find something to do in your life where you have passions,” Mullins told the students. “You will be much happier and much more successful in what you are doing. I enjoy solving problems and puzzles. To get paid for it, that is it right there.”
Mullins graduated from Central in 1996 and continued his education at the Tennessee Technological University and competed a master’s degree at the University of Tennessee.
“A lot has changed since I was a student here,” Mullins told The Daily Herald. “I hope I can light a fire in some of these students and help them be in a place where they can give back and do something great for the world.”
He was recently named to Knoxville’s 40 Under 40 list by the Knoxville News-Sentinel.
“What we do is important for the country,” Mullins told the News-Sentinel. “Weapons in the U.S. nuclear stockpile have components manufactured, maintained or dismantled at the Y-12 complex. We don’t desire a weapon to ever physically be used, but we know our weapons are used every day as a deterrent for folks that would cause us harm,” Mullins said.
Along with ensuring Y-12′s production operations are carried out in a safe, secure and efficient manner, Mullins educates a workforce of 600 highly skilled production personnel about their valued role in that mission. He also travels across the state speaking to students and discussing the importance and opportunities available to young people pursuing an education in the STEM fields.