Partnership combines strengths to train future workforce, solve national challenges.

Y-12-and-UT-SigningOAK RIDGE – The Y-12 National Security Complex signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of Tennessee today with the goal of pushing more technologies into the private sector and expanding collaborations in areas ranging from joint research to analyzing business operations. The partnership combines the leading research talents of the university with Y-12’s successful track record in technology development and application.

“Research is critical to our mission and seeing this research used on the shop floor is very rewarding,” said Darrel Kohlhorst, president and general manager of B&W Y-12, which operates Y-12 for the National Nuclear Security Administration. “Y-12 and UT share that belief and are committed to investing the resources to establish real, sustainable opportunities and successes.”

Kohlhorst and UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek signed the MOU at the Partners in Technology Forum at the Y-12 New Hope Center.

“The University of Tennessee, Knoxville and Y-12 already enjoy a strong partnership and with this agreement it will become even stronger,” said Chancellor Cheek. “I am personally committed to bolstering this relationship and look forward to possible opportunities in the development of joint research projects, appointments and even centers for excellence.”

More than 100 researchers and engineers from UT and Y-12 came together to exchange ideas and experiences during today’s half-day tech forum. Also on hand to voice his approval of the partnership was Kevin Greenaugh, director for Military Application and Stockpile Operations at NNSA.

UT and Y-12 already are working together to train future scientists and engineers. The organizations started the Y-12/UT Career Advantage Program with the UT College of Business’ MBA program in 2007. Selected students get the chance to put what they’re learning in the classroom into action at Y-12, and on top of that, they receive a tuition waiver and stipend. Currently there are six Master of Business Administration (MBA) students from UT working on projects at Y-12 and there are plans to expand the program into other areas soon. Y-12 provides real-life work experiences to UT’s undergraduates as well through its co-op program.

While the Department of Energy and the National Nuclear Security Administration strongly advocate close collaborations between universities and its sites, typically such agreements are between the national laboratories and universities. Y-12 and UT are breaking the mold by striking out to form a relationship between an NNSA production site and a major research university. The partnership may also prove beneficial to UT in its pursuit to be named one of the nation’s top 25 public research institutions.

“This agreement gives us the vehicle to take advantage of the strengths of both organizations for the benefit of our community, state and nation,” Kohlhorst said.

To take further advantage of the partners’ individual and joint assets, and to encourage the exchange of ideas, Y-12 and UT are preparing to start Joint Faculty and Research Appointments at both institutions beginning this fall. UT already supports Y-12 on several Y-12 or plant-directed research and development projects. Under the MOU, Y-12 and UT plan to expand their partnership and are considering several jointly funded research projects and the possibility of initiating Joint Research Institutes or Centers of Excellence to solve complex national security and manufacturing-related problems facing our nation.

Source: B&W Y-12 Public Affairs and Communications
Photo: B&W Y-12 Public Affairs and Communications