Sandia honors former senator for years of unparalleled support
In an outpouring of affection and appreciation, an audience of enthusiastic Sandians, along with elected officials and representatives from NNSA and the community, gathered last week in Sandia’s Tech Area 1 to honor the service of former US Sen. Pete Domenici.
In recognition of his decades of advocacy and support for the role the national laboratories play in protecting the nation’s security, officials at Sandia rededicated the still relatively new Weapon Integration Facility building as the Pete V. Domenici National Security Innovation Center.
With the long-serving, now retired senator and members of his family looking on, Sandia Labs Director Paul Hommert said, “Today is an extra special day because a visionary leader, a steadfast supporter, a dear friend is going to be honored by Sandia for Sandians and for people throughout our state and nation. Henceforth, the Weapons Integration Facility of the MESA complex at Sandia National Laboratories will be known as the Pete V. Domenici National Security Innovation Center. . . .”
‘You believed in us’
“Sen. Domenici, by dedicating this building to you, we are celebrating your long-term vision for the security of our nation, your vision for a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear deterrent; your vigorous push intended to stimulate creativity and innovation; your staunch belief in sharing the knowledge with industry, universities, and other partners; your genuine delight at the advancements of science and engineering that would ultimately benefit the local and national economy. To a great extent, the entire MESA complex came into being because you believed in us. You asked us to demonstrate what we could do and what was needed in order to carry out our mission, and then you transformed a vision into reality for the benefit of our country and the world.
“Sen. Domenici, in your typical unassuming way, you once told us, ‘You do your best, and I’ll do what I can.’ It is now our turn to say to you, ‘We did our best, but you did the very best,’ and for that, we thank you.”
In his own remarks, Domenici connected with his audience with the same easy and distinctive style that made him a perennial favorite at Sandia whenever he conducted one of his almost annual colloquia during his years as a US senator. Domenici reiterated his conviction that the national laboratories have a vital role to play in securing the nation’s future.
Grateful for support
Don Cook, NNSA’s deputy administrator for Defense Programs, also spoke of Domenici’s efforts on behalf of the national laboratories.
“In the same week we released a budget that provides the resources to invest in NNSA’s future and implement the president’s agenda, we have the opportunity to honor one of the true champions of investing in the people, the science and engineering capabilities, and the facilities that underpin our nuclear security,” Cook said. “We are all grateful for support we at NNSA received from Sen. Pete Domenici, and for his lasting commitment to modernizing the nation’s nuclear security enterprise.”
Domenici, Cook, and Paul were joined by New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez and by representatives from the offices of Reps. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., and Steve Pearce, R-N.M.
The dedication ceremony took place at the southeast corner of Sandia’s MESA complex, of which the Pete V. Domenici building is a key facility. MESA stands for Microsystems and Engineering Sciences Applications. Domenici was a long-time champion and ardent supporter of the MESA complex, and played a key role in securing funding for the best-of-class microsystems research, development and fabrication complex.
The Domenici Center houses 350 Sandia staff, most of whom work on weapon subsystem engineering and modeling and simulation or engineering sciences.