CALIFORNIA STROLLING — DOE Secretary Rick Perry (left) tours Sandia's California campus, hosted by Associate Labs Director Dori Ellis (center) and Director Steve Younger (right). (Photo by Randy Wong)
Secretary Perry and Sandia: A science alliance
Buried within U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s impressive biography is a little-known fact: he was once a yell leader for Texas A&M University. On a recent tour through California, Secretary Perry said he’s now reprising that role, but this time it’s in service of the national laboratories.
Kicking off his two-day tour through Livermore, the former Texas governor explained how this past year as Energy secretary has deeply affected him. “I have found this great new passion in my life, and that is to be a supporter and cheerleader, a proponent of these national jewels,” he said, referring to the DOE laboratories.
This comment set the tone for his all-hands meeting at Lawrence Livermore National Lab hosted jointly by its director, Bill Goldstein, and Sandia Director Steve Younger. There, he touched on the challenges of recruiting and the need to develop multiple sources of energy to meet growing demand.
Competition for top talent
The secretary acknowledged the difficulty of recruiting in California, with its sky-high cost of living. Though he joked that Texas can’t compete with the Golden State in terms of
He also wondered aloud how to “make nuclear cool again,” since weapons work was a popular choice for the bright students of his generation, but is less so today. That’s why it was with surprise and delight he noticed the apparent youth of the engineers assembled for his visit to the W80-4 life extension suite.
Many of the engineers in the room appeared to be under 35, and the secretary complimented them for choosing a career with impacts that would continue for decades. He also expressed gratitude to everyone in the weapons program, particularly in the face of increased work that will be required of them due to the recent nuclear posture review.
Among DOE’s recruitment solutions are
Fueling the country’s future
The secretary also made it clear at the all-hands that to meet projected future demands, the U.S. will require a healthy supply of all forms of energy, including renewables. He proudly noted that during his tenure as governor, Texas saw more growth in wind energy than any state in the nation.
He urged fans of renewable energy in the room not to panic over proposed federal budget
Later during the site tour, manager Paul Miles of Engine Combustion explained that Sandia is modifying its diesel research laboratories to study natural gas combustion in medium- and heavy-duty engines.
Paul said the challenge with natural gas is closing the efficiency gap with diesel. The secretary was enthusiastic about this work, relating Sandia’s research to the extensive infrastructure for natural gas delivery that he helped develop in Texas.
Additional highlights of his tour included a demonstration of
Throughout it all, the secretary remained thoroughly upbeat about the
“Hosting Secretary Perry today was truly a pleasure,” said Associate Labs Director Dori Ellis. “He made clear that his commitment to the laboratories is unwavering, and that in him we have a strong, effective advocate for our mission of solving the nation’s security and energy challenges.”