Pantex, WTAMU partner on new fire safety program for engineer students

Local News

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) Pantex and West Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering have joined together on a new program that will launch in Spring 2022, according to a press release by WT’s Communications Dept.

The release explained that the program will provide trained fire safety engineers and “fire protection engineering specialization” within WT’s mechanical engineering program.

 “This program helps to address a significant need we and others in the nuclear security enterprise have for fire protection engineers,” said Colby Yeary, CNS vice president of mission engineering. “The engineers in this field play a significant role in ensuring our fire detection and suppression systems are well designed and operating normally.
“Our need for fire protection engineers is great, particularly at Pantex, and what better geographic partnership than WT?” Yeary continued. “They have an exceptional College of Engineering that is on the rise, and we have had many past successes partnering with them.”

According to Yeary, the program will provide the unique skills that are offered by only a few universities in the country. These skills are needed to provide support to existing facilities and upgrade projects for Pantex, the release explained.
The release added that undergraduates can add on a 12-hour “specialized” course in their bachelor of science program in mechanical engineering, while graduate students can add a 12-hour certificate program that can be applied toward a master of science in engineering. 
The bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering is the largest program in WT’s College of Engineering, according to WT, and the fire protection partnership will provide a “diverse population of students the opportunity to become more competitive in the job market, both locally and nationwide,” said Dr. Emily Hunt, dean of WT’s College of Engineering. 

“I truly believe that creating this opportunity for mechanical engineering students to enter the workplace with a specialization in fire protection engineering will enhance the opportunity for students to grow in each of these areas,” Hunt said.

The partnership between WT and Pantex has been a long-standing one for decades due to the history of engineering collaboration in workforce development, and research and design.
“We’re excited to work with the CNS team to create new opportunities for WT engineering graduates at Pantex and to help support additional NNSA sites across the nation,” Hunt said.

The program will provide students with the opportunity to learn from local and knowledgeable professionals, WT added.
“This program offers a unique benefit to students not only to study in an elite field, but also to evaluate real-world situations at Pantex,” said Julie Huff, CNS senior director of engineering technical operations. “We will be providing projects to the students that are scenarios Pantex is currently working and will support project execution. This will give the students an incredible insight into working in the Fire Protection field.”
Pantex also will offer opportunities for fire protection engineering internships to students and full-time positions for graduates who would like to contribute to the national security mission, the release stated.

“The saying, ‘If you build it, they will come’ resonates for me here,” Yeary said. “I firmly believe that, in partnership with WT, we are building an outstanding program and corresponding opportunities for students in fire protection engineering.”

“For Pantex, this program will enable a pipeline of engineers who can quickly come up to speed and proficiently support the mission. For the WTAMU students, this opens a door of opportunity that previously did not exist,” he said. 
Students can sign up for classes in the specialization as early as spring semester 2022.

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