Pantex, WT Partner on New Fire Protection Engineering Specialization

Sep 30, 2021
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Pantex, WT Partner on New Fire Protection Engineering Specialization

WT Contact: Chip Chandler, 806-651-2124,

CNS Contact: Steve Myers, Pantex Public Affairs Specialist, 806-236-2826


CANYON, Texas — A new program to provide highly trained fire safety engineers will launch in Spring 2022, thanks to a new partnership between Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC and West Texas A&M University’s College of Engineering.

The entities announced a collaboration on a fire protection engineering specialization within WT’s mechanical engineering program during a Sept. 30 signing ceremony.

“This program helps to address a significant need we and others in the nuclear security enterprise have for fire protection engineers,” said Colby Yeary, CNS vice president of mission engineering. “The engineers in this field play a significant role in ensuring our fire detection and suppression systems are well designed and operating normally.

“Our need for fire protection engineers is great, particularly at Pantex, and what better geographic partnership than WT?” Yeary continued. “They have an exceptional College of Engineering that is on the rise, and we have had many past successes partnering with them.” 

Pantex needs fire protection engineers to provide support for existing facilities and upgrade projects. The program, and the unique skill set it provides students, is offered by few universities in the country, Yeary said.

Responsiveness to the region’s needs is a key component of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World, which is being fueled by the historic, $125 million One West comprehensive campaign.

The new program will offer tracks for both undergraduate and graduate students. Undergraduates can add on a 12-hour specialized track in their bachelor of science program in mechanical engineering. Graduate students may add a 12-hour certificate program that can be applied toward a master of science in engineering.

The bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering is the largest program in WT’s College of Engineering, and the fire protection engineering specialization collaboration will provide a diverse population of students the opportunity to become more competitive in the job market, both locally and nationwide, said Dr. Emily Hunt, dean of WT’s College of Engineering.

“I truly believe that creating this opportunity for mechanical engineering students to enter the workplace with a specialization in fire protection engineering will enhance the opportunity for students to grow in each of these areas,” Hunt said.

WT and Pantex have a natural, longstanding partnership due to the decades-long history of engineering collaboration in workforce development, research and design.

“We’re excited to work with the CNS team to create new opportunities for WT engineering graduates at Pantex and to help support additional NNSA sites across the nation,” Hunt said.

Within the specialization, students will have the opportunity to learn from local professionals and knowledgeable professors.

“This program offers a unique benefit to students not only to study in an elite field, but also to evaluate real-world situations at Pantex,” said Julie Huff, CNS senior director of engineering technical operations. “We will be providing projects to the students that are scenarios Pantex is currently working and will support project execution. This will give the students an incredible insight into working in the Fire Protection field.”

Pantex also will offer opportunities for fire protection engineering internships to students and full-time positions for graduates who would like to contribute to the national security mission.

“The saying, ‘If you build it, they will come’ resonates for me here,” Yeary said. “I firmly believe that, in partnership with WT, we are building an outstanding program and corresponding opportunities for students in fire protection engineering.”

“For Pantex, this program will enable a pipeline of engineers who can quickly come up to speed and proficiently support the mission. For the WTAMU students, this opens a door of opportunity that previously did not exist,” he said. 

Students can sign up for classes in the specialization as early as spring semester 2022.


Photo: An engineer inspects Pantex's high-explosives pressing facility, which includes sprinklers and a deluge system. A new fire protection engineering track for both undergraduate and graduate students will be available at West Texas A&M University beginning in Spring 2022. (Photo by Michael Schumacher/Pantex)


About Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC

Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC operates the Pantex Plant, located in Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 National Security Complex, located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, under a single contract for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration. Pantex and Y-12 are key facilities in the U.S. Nuclear Security Enterprise, and CNS performs its work with a focus on performance excellence and the imperatives of safety, security, zero defects and delivery as promised. For more information on each site, visit or Follow Pantex and Y-12 on Facebook and Twitter.


About West Texas A&M University

WT is located in Canyon, Texas, on a 342-acre residential campus. Established in 1910, the University has been part of The Texas A&M University System since 1990. WT, a Hispanic Serving Institution since 2016, boasts an enrollment of about 10,000 and offers 60 undergraduate degree programs, 40 master’s degrees and two doctoral degrees. The University is also home to the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the largest history museum in the state and the home of one of the Southwest’s finest art collections. The Buffaloes are a member of the NCAA Division II Lone Star Conference and offers 14 men’s and women’s athletics programs.