Texas A&M University System leads research and education consortium joined by University of Texas System to bid for Sandia
The Texas A&M University System is partnering with Battelle, The Boeing Company, the University of Texas System and the University of New Mexico in a joint bid to manage the Sandia National Laboratories — one of three DOE laboratories responsible for the nation's nuclear arsenal.
Battelle is the world's largest independent nonprofit research and development organization, and Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company and leading manufacturer of commercial jetliners and defense, space and security systems.
The Texas A&M University System, which will lead the Texas Research and Education Partnership that includes the University of Texas System, joins the University of New Mexico to provide research expertise, workforce training and independent peer review of the crucial research and development conducted at Sandia. These academic entities will be members of the board of directors for the laboratories.
In May 2015, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it would seek a request for proposal (RFP) for the management of Sandia. Currently the laboratory is managed by the Sandia Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin, and has an operating budget of $3 billion with 10,000 employees. The final request for proposals was issued on May 18, 2016, and a contract decision is anticipated by the end of the year.
The idea for creating the team to compete for the Sandia contract started at a November dinner hosted by Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp. Battelle's Ron Townsend, executive vice president of Global Laboratory Operations, and M. Katherine Banks, vice chancellor and dean of engineering for the Texas A&M System, among others, attended that first meeting.
"When rumors about this opportunity arose in 2012, Dr. Banks and I knew we were in a unique position to serve our nation. Our first call was to Battelle and over the last four years, this ideal team was created," Chancellor Sharp said. "The Texas A&M System has the capability and long history of national service that are unmatched by any other university system. Texas A&M's faculty expertise and our top-ranked engineering graduate programs position us well as a key partner for this opportunity. The leadership of Governor Greg Abbott made this partnership possible for the Texas university systems."
Governor Abbott said the Texas A&M System approached him almost a year ago about bidding to manage the Sandia National Laboratories.
"From the moment Chancellor Sharp first approached me about bidding on the Sandia National Laboratory, we have worked hard to build a coalition to take advantage of this unparalleled research opportunity," Abbott said. "Today's announcement reflects months of work building a robust coalition that includes The Texas A&M University System, the University of Texas System, and the University of New Mexico. I am grateful to Chancellor Sharp for spearheading this remarkable effort, to [UT System] Chancellor [William H.] McRaven for working closely with the Governor's Office to ensure that Texas fielded a unified and robust research team. Together, Texas and New Mexico can bring unprecedented research opportunities to our great state universities and would be honored to be entrusted with the management of one of our nation's premier national laboratories."
The University of Texas System is the second-largest public university system in the nation with an enrollment of 217,000 students across 14 institutions. The UT System has a long-standing relationship with Sandia National Laboratory and has worked closely with the Laboratory to supply the skilled scientists and engineers needed to support Sandia's mission and on numerous science and engineering projects that are important to the nation's security.
"Partnering with industry and academic leaders in research and development areas that ultimately will help safeguard America is a phenomenal opportunity and the UT System is proud to be doing its part," said UT System Chancellor William H. McRaven. "This collaboration is a perfect fit, leveraging the research power of stellar universities as well as the expertise of Battelle and Boeing to elevate the already remarkable development coming out of Sandia National Laboratories."
Banks, with the Texas A&M System, said the academic partnership is a critical component.
"Combined, the Texas A&M and University of Texas systems are among the nation's largest research enterprises and include two of the most respected engineering programs," Banks said. "Both have been involved in our nation's nuclear security enterprise for decades and are deeply familiar with the personnel, mission and research at Sandia National Laboratory."
"Sandia ensures the U.S. nuclear stockpile is safe, secure, and reliable and can fully support the nation's deterrence policy," said Ed Dolanski, president, Boeing Global Services & Support. "Their mission of service to the nation is directly aligned with our team's mission. Battelle's leadership in national lab management and Boeing's leadership in weapons and systems engineering will provide new capabilities to help NNSA more effectively meet their nuclear objectives."
About The Texas A&M University System
The Texas A&M University System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation with a statewide network of 11 universities, seven state agencies, a comprehensive health science center and a budget of $4.2 billion. The Texas A&M System educates more than 140,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $946 million and help drive the state's economy.
About Texas A&M Engineering
Within the A&M System, nine of the 11 universities offer engineering degree programs with a combined enrollment of more than 25,000 engineering students and more than 600 engineering faculty members. The largest engineering program is at Texas A&M University in College Station with more than 16,500 students, including approximately 12,500 undergraduates and approximately 3,500 graduate students, and $308 million in engineering research expenditures annually, among the highest in the U.S. The A&M System engineering program also includes three state agencies: Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) which conducts engineering research, performs education and workforce development and transfers technology discoveries into the marketplace; Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) which delivers emergency response, homeland security and workforce training and exercises; and Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) which conducts transportation research and transfers technology to industry and the public. The Texas A&M Engineering enterprise strategic areas have strong alignment with SNL: defense systems and assessments; international, homeland and nuclear security; informatics/knowledge economy; energy, climate and infrastructure security; cybersecurity; transportation and infrastructure; and energy and the environment.