National Nuclear Security Administration

Engineering a bright future across the Nuclear Security Enterprise

February 20, 2018

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In honor of National Engineer Week, NNSA is taking a look at a variety of ways these creative innovators contribute to nuclear security nation-wide. By definition, engineers design and build, but the exact result depends on their specific discipline.

Keep reading to learn about just a few of the wide-ranging careers engineers can embark on within NNSA.

Dr. Marianne Francois of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Aerospace Engineering

An aerospace engineer studies the science of air and space flight. They must understand meteorology, propulsion, and materials science, among other disciplines.

Dr. Marianne Francois, a group leader at Los Alamos National Laboratory, is an expert in fluid dynamics and heat transfer, which allows her to accurately model the complexity of nuclear weapons systems under various conditions.

Biomedical Engineering

The interdisciplinary world of a biomedical engineer combines research and development of systems, structures, and materials with healthcare diagnosis, monitoring, and therapy. There are numerous subfields ranging from prostheses and implant devices to gene splicing and medical imaging technology.

Monica Moya of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University and a doctorate in biomedical engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. Her current research applies principles of microfluidics, biomaterials, and tissue engineering to 3D print living perfused vascular structures for neural systems.

Monica Moya of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Monica Moya of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory 

Chemical Engineering

A chemical engineer uses science and mathematics applications to produce useful energy and materials, such as pharmaceuticals or plastics. These professionals may also design reactor plants, with a focus on ensuring public safety.

David Parkinson joined Los Alamos National Laboratory while he was still an undergraduate chemical engineering student at Brigham Young University. With the guidance of his mentor, he designed and tested a device that separates out contaminating particles during the processing of plutonium. Today, Parkinson is a manufacturing manager at the lab.

David Parkinson of Los Alamos National Laboratory
David Parkinson of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Electrical Engineering

An electrical engineer studies electricity, electronics, and electromagnetism for practical applications in the manufacture of electrical equipment, such as motors or radar as well as navigation and communication systems.

Destiny Goddu was hired by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory through the award-winning “Vets to Tech” program. Goddu was a sergeant in the U.S. Marines Corps and now spends part of her time building X-ray configurations that verify diagnostic systems prior to being used in the National Ignition Facility. She recently received her associate’s degree in engineering technology from Las Positas College and plans to earn a master’s degree in electrical engineering while continuing her work at the lab.

Destiny Goddu of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Destiny Goddu of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Rick Roses of the NNSA Livermore Field Office
Rick Roses of the NNSA Livermore Field Office

Fire Protection Engineering

A fire protection engineer applies the science of fire detection, suppression, and mitigation to protect people, property, and their environments from the harmful and destructive effects of fire and smoke.

Rick Roses holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s in national resource strategy from the National Defense University. Roses helps maintain a secure environment at the Lawrence Livermore Field Office as a functional area manager for explosives safety and subject matter expert.

Mechanical Engineering

A mechanical engineer applies physics and materials science to design and manufacture machines.

Robert Jones came to Washington, D.C. to support the Nuclear Security Enterprise in 1976. Jones earned a master’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Tennessee, which led to more than 40 years as a civil servant. Throughout his career, Jones has managed a wide variety of advanced nuclear weapon technology and development programs and served as a senior technical advisor for NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs.

Bob Jones of NNSA's Office of Defense Programs
Bob Jones of NNSA's Office of Defense Programs
Dr. Sasan Bakhtiari of Argonne National Laboratory
Dr. Sasan Bakhtiari of Argonne National Laboratory

Nuclear Engineering

A nuclear engineer researches and develops the processes, instruments, and systems used to derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation.

Dr. Sasan Bakhtiari earned a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Colorado State University, although he is currently a senior member of the Nuclear Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory. Dr. Bakhtiari has led projects with industrial, scientific, and biomedical applications while in close coordination with various federal agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Project Engineering

A project engineer leads the technical workers who contribute to the building of structures or products.

Beth Dzenitis of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory served as Deputy Experimental Campaign Manager and project engineer for NNSA's Source Physics Experiment-5. Dzenitis evaluated each phase of the project’s progress, maintained the schedule, and coordinated all staff members’ contributions before making the final decision to proceed with the experiment itself. 

Beth Dzenitis of Sandia National Laboratories
Beth Dzenitis of Sandia National Laboratories