UT faces regional coalition, again

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By Tris DeRoma

Texas A&M University emphasized the university system’s diversity and its commitment to nuclear engineering during a presentation to the Regional Coalition of LANL Communities Friday. 

This was the second time the university faced the board. The first time was at a breakfast in December.

Texas A&M is one of three university bidders that made public their bid for the next $2 billion-plus management and operations contract to operate the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Texas A&M Assistant Vice Chancellor of the university’s Office of Federal Relations, A. Scott Sudduth, went before the coalition Friday to emphasize the university’s promise that it will be committed to supporting the interests and goals of the coalition if it is picked by the Department of Energy to be the next contractor.

He said the 11 universities and seven state agencies that make up the university system have a very diverse workforce.

“…including five majority of Hispanic serving institution and one historically black college and university,” Sudduth said. “We are a very diverse organization.”

Sudduth also talked about A&M’s nuclear engineering system and how, for years, Texas A&M has acted as a “pipeline” for LANL and other nuclear facilities in the Department of Energy’s nuclear enterprise.

“We are no stranger to the mission of Los Alamos, we have the oldest and the largest nuclear engineering program in the country,” Sudduth said. “We have been a source, a pipeline for the workforce throughout the Department of Energy lab complex for many years.”

One of the reasons Texas A & M decided to compete for the contract Sudduth said was to address the aging employee workforce at all of the Department of Energy’s nuclear facilities.

He also said Texas A&M has collaborated extensively with LANL and other Department of Energy facilities.
“It’s a natural fit,” Sudduth said. “Additionally, if you know anything about Texas A&M, we have a deep long vetted commitment to public service and national service.”

Sudduth also talked about its workforce development programs it runs in conjuction with the state’s community colleges, the university system and industry.

Often, the university system is called upon to develop a curriculum that directly addresses specific needs, something Sudduth said he would like to happen here Texas A&M is chosen.

“We want to be a strong community partner, but this is also your community. We want to work with you, but only if we have some resources and assets that make sense to you.”

University of Texas System already gave two presentations, the latest being at the Oct. 13 meeting. This time, former staff member-turned-consultant for the University of Texas Susan Rogers gave a brief statement summarizing it’s goals in working with the coalition.

“If the UT proposal is selected, UT commits to undertake a position of deep engagement and responsible stewardship in northern New Mexico,” Rogers said.

Rogers also said if UT wins the contract, it will make the lab’s mission the number one priority.

“UT has a sincere and an established commitment to national service and national security, and unmatched qualifications.” Rogers said.