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Travis Wilson, a nuclear criticality safety engineer at Y-12 National Security Complex, received the Best Technical Paper for an Early Career Nuclear Criticality Safety Professional at the International Conference on Nuclear Criticality Safety in Paris.
Travis Wilson, a nuclear criticality safety engineer at Y-12 National Security Complex, received the Best Technical Paper for an Early Career Nuclear Criticality Safety Professional at the International Conference on Nuclear Criticality Safety in Paris.

Having started as a maintenance engineer at NNSA’s Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) in 2014, Travis Wilson has focused on a variety of complex day-to-day technical issues during his tenure there.    

Wilson, who is now a nuclear criticality safety engineer at Y-12, was recognized for his work and awarded the Best Technical Paper for Early Career Nuclear Criticality Safety Professional at the September International Conference on Nuclear Criticality Safety in Paris.

The paper, “Uranium Accumulations in Casting Operations,” covers how Y-12 identified an issue in a key processing area, resolved it, and presented lessons learned and improvements to help other sites avoid similar issues.

Wilson served as the paper’s lead author and Spencer Jordan as coauthor.

Wilson said the main discussion point of the paper is that process drift and small changes in upstream process can have large impacts over time. The analysis and results of the paper strengthen Y-12’s role in delivering a key NNSA mission.

Any time I step outside my comfort zone I learn new things and meet new people.

Travis Wilson
nuclear criticality safety engineer at Y-12 National Security Complex

At the conference, Wilson found it interesting to learn how criticality safety programs in other countries such as England and France operate and to realize they experience many of the same issues he and his colleagues face at Y-12.

“I thought there were many great papers and presentations at the conference, and many of them had aspects I found were relevant to criticality safety at Y-12,” he said.

Wilson encourages others to step outside the box and do something new.

“Any time I step outside my comfort zone I learn new things and meet new people,” he said. “Leading a project really forces you to learn the details of a process or system. Presenting at the conference was a great way to meet people outside of our organization or from other sites and learn their successes and struggles.”

Wilson joined Y-12’s Nuclear Criticality Safety group in 2016 and supported operations in Building 9212 for almost three years. He began working on the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) project in October 2018. Wilson now provides criticality safety support for UPF through construction and startup.

For more than 70 years, the processes contained within Building 9212, a Manhattan Project-era structure, have supported the Y-12 national security mission. Tasks performed within the building will be transferred to UPF, once it is completed.