Sandia and Lockheed Martin honored with Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation’s Award of Excellence
It began, as befits an occasion with connections to the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation, with a prayer: "You who are the Crafter of the Cosmos, Weaver of the helix, Igniter of stars, we whom you shaped from star dust seek your presence."
So prayed the Rev. Bill Dorman in an invocation at the beginning of a special evening on May 18 in which the Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation presented Sandia/Lockheed Martin with its prestigious Award of Excellence.
Dorman, Director of Pastoral Services for Presbyterian Hospital, continued, "This night we acknowledge those who have committed their individual and collective gifts of intellect and creativity to benefit and serve society at large, and to protect our nation and the international community from the ravages of war and terrorism. . . . Bless us this night with the nourishment of food and friendship, even as we pray that all people may likewise be blessed to sit at tables safely, securely, and thankfully."
At the gala Albuquerque Convention Center event, a who’s who of several hundred community leaders turned out to help the Foundation honor Sandia with the award, which has been presented 25 times since 1969. The audience included more than 100 Sandians as special invited guests of the Foundation. Among featured speakers were National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Gen. John Gordon, US Sen. Pete Domenici, and NBC News special foreign correspondent Dr. Bob Arnot.
The Award for Excellence was developed as a way for the Foundation to acknowledge an individual or organization that has made significant contributions to the community, the state, and the nation for the benefit of mankind. Previous recipients have included distinguished New Mexico leaders such as Clinton P. Anderson, Wilson Hurley, and Pete Domenici.
In welcoming remarks, Presbyterian Healthcare Services President and CEO Jim Hinton said, "Tonight as individuals and as a community, we have the opportunity to personally say thank you to the men and women of Sandia National Laboratories. For you are heroes to New Mexico, heroes to America and heroes to all in this world who crave peace.
"Sandia is simply one of the most influential organizations in the world. You are dedicated to helping our nation secure peace and freedom through technology. You exemplify ‘excellence’ of scientific achievement in defense systems, energy security and environmental integrity and many other areas."
The ‘Sandia grunt’ gets a laugh
Hinton drew some chuckles of recognition when he talked about the "Sandia grunt." As a child, he recalled, he would sometimes ask his uncle, a Sandia researcher, what he did at work. The response, Hinton said, was usually a grunt, a mumble, a cough, or a discreet clearing of the throat.
"He could never really tell us much about what he did every day," Hinton said. "But I knew it was important. All of us in the family knew it was important. This situation in my family isn’t unique. Almost everyone in Albuquerque knows someone who works at Sandia. And while none of us really knows exactly what you do on the job — and you aren’t that much fun at cocktail parties as a result — we certainly know very well about your work away from the Lab. You work side by side with us improving the quality of life for Albuquerque and New Mexico.
Sen. Pete Domenici, the most recent previous recipient of the Foundation’s award of Excellence (in 1993), spoke with obvious pride of authorship of the circumstances that led to the creation of NNSA as a semi-autonomous agency within DOE.
He praised NNSA administrator Gordon and his leadership in shaping "an entirely new way" of managing the nation’s nuclear weapons complex. Domenici said one of his proudest responsibilities during his 30-year US Senate career has been to represent and champion New Mexico’s national laboratories. He said one of his most important current "causes" is to advocate a key role for Sandia and Los Alamos in applying their technical and scientific expertise to the challenges of homeland security and the war on terrorism.
Gen. Gordon called Sandia "one of the truly great scientific and technical laboratories in the world," adding, "I am proud that it is being recognized for giving so much to humankind not only on a technical level, but on a community level, as well."
‘I can always count on Sandia’
He continued, "I know from my direct experiences the kinds of contributions Sandians make at every level toward the security, prosperity, and well- being of the immediate and greater community. One of the things I have learned during my time at NNSA is I always can count on Sandia to do what is right for our nation. This became even more evident during Sandia’s response to the many challenges that arose following the September 11 attacks. When President Bush and Governor Ridge needed solutions to some difficult technical challenges, Sandia was ready to put its vast intellectual capability to work to address these national needs." He noted that Sandia-developed technologies continue to play a vital role both domestically and in combat theaters in the war on terrorism.
In addition to praising Sandia’s technical contributions, Gordon cited Sandia and Lockheed Martin’s many contributions to the community, specifically citing examples such as Make a Difference Day, Strengthening Quality in Schools, and the National Atomic Museum’s Summer Science camp, offered in conjunction with the Hispanic Cultural Center and the Hispano Chamber of Commerce.
A culture such as Sandia’s
"I thank the many Sandia employees who are so dedicated to solving technological challenges for improving our world and who volunteer to support so many wonderful local programs," said Gordon. "I also thank Lockheed Martin for its generosity to the community."
Gordon offered warm words of respect and admiration for Paul Robinson and the leadership he has provided, not only at Sandia, but in the community and the nation.
"A culture such as Sandia’s does not happen by accident," Gordon said. "When you see an organization performing at this level, you know there is strong leadership involved. At Sandia, Paul Robinson has set the standard for his management team with his own involvement, ranging from leading national boards and advisory groups, to driving nails at a project in Martineztown or painting a Habitat for Humanity house.
"Personally and professionally," Gordon said, "Paul leads by example. He has set a very high standard for Sandia, and . . . his [colleagues at the Labs] have risen to the challenge at every level."
In his remarks accepting the award on behalf of all Sandians, Paul thanked the foundation and the community, which has provided such a wonderful home for the Labs. He said the opportunity to devote one’s life to working in science and technology for the benefit of the nation and the world is profoundly satisfying.
Paul noted that ever since becoming president of Sandia, he has kept a framed quotation from Albert Einstein plainly visible on the wall near his desk. He refers to it often as a touchstone. The words are:
"Concern for man himself and his fate must always form the chief interest for all technical endeavors . . . in order that the creations of our mind shall be a blessing and not a curse to mankind. Never forget this in the midst of your diagrams and equations."
Those words, Paul said, embody the spirit that Sandia tries to bring to all of its efforts.
Lockheed Martin proud of Sandia link
John Freeh, President of Systems Management for Lockheed Martin, echoed Paul’s sentiments in thanking the Foundation for the award. He noted how proud Lockheed Martin is to be associated with Sandia and how much they appreciate the overwhelmingly positive relationship they enjoy with the Albuquerque community.
After the formal presentation by Foundation officers of the Award of Excellence, featured speaker Dr. Bob Arnot offered his perspective on the war on terrorism as seen from his position as a special correspondent for NBC news. Arnot, a Middle East expert (a degree in Islamic Studies at Dartmouth, class of 1972) sent a chill through the audience with accounts of interviews with radical Islamic fundamentalists (perhaps two percent of Muslims worldwide, he emphasized) who say their primary goal in life is to work for the obliteration of the US.
Holding up a MicroHound hand-held chem/bio sniffer developed at Sandia, he praised the Labs’ technological contributions to the war on terrorism. He noted specifically that Sandia-quality radar imagery has been a vital tool for American soldiers in the field
And as it began, so it ended, with a prayer from Rev. Dorman:
"You whose name is beyond all names, you who collect as well as disperse, send us forth from this place with a renewed commitment to liberty, justice, and freedom for all — those in this city, this state, this land, and our sisters and brothers around the globe with whose destinies our own is interwoven."