WRPS volunteers mentor young minds

STEM (1)WRPS employees recently volunteered at the 2014 STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Explorers Conference at Columbia Basin College. More than 300 students participated in the event where they learned about various STEM fields through fun, hands-on workshops led by area professionals.

WRPS presenters and their topics:

Scotty Curl – Nuclear Engineering: Chain Reaction
Janelle Easter – Peanut Butter & Jelly: The Basics of Communication
Matthew Huntington – Mechanical Engineering: DIY Brushless Electric Motors
Lloyd Keith – Nuclear Engineering: Working in the Nuclear Industry
Mark Brown – Structural Engineering: Building a Spaghetti Tower

WRPS attends job fair for disabled workers

Disability fair 2

WRPS Talent Development Coordinator Britt Easter and Human Resources Staffing Lead Chastity Bitters greet attendees at a job fair designed to assist disabled workers. WRPS joined more than 30 other area employers who set up booths to take resumes and coordinate interviews. The event, which took place the last week of October at the TRAC in Pasco, was aptly named Building Bridges and Breaking Down Barriers.

“There are so many stereotypes, and the first barrier we have to overcome is the limitations we put on disabled employees because of our own personal biases,” said WRPS Compliance Programs lead Lisa Bunch. “We want to break down existing barriers and move beyond them to expand employment opportunities for disabled workers.”

Engineers recognized with national award

Engineers_SEK_KPL_PhotoEngineers Steve Kelly and Pat Lee have been recognized by the American Statistical Association (ASA) with the 2014 Statistics in Chemistry Award. The award recognizes outstanding collaborative endeavors between statisticians and chemists for their innovative use of statistics to solve a problem in chemistry and the impact of the solution.
Kelly and Lee co-authored a paper with colleagues from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) that summarized small-scale tank mixing and waste transfer test results. Their work involved studying the process for mixing and transferring radioactive waste from storage tanks to the Waste Treatment Plant, where it will be converted to a safer, stable glass waste form. The work consisted of developing models based on small-scale test data to enable predicting mixing and transfer performance at full scale.

“Working with PNNL’s Applied Statistics and Computational Modeling group was an excellent experience,” Kelly said. “They helped us understand what is important for model optimization and how to identify parameters not significantly adding to the correlation.”

“This work was a collaborative effort between disciplines from beginning to end,” Lee said. “We worked closely with statisticians to design a set of experiments that could be modeled and included the variables we considered important to scaling the mixing and transfer process.”

Regarding the paper and corresponding research, the ASA wrote, “The process scale-up problem addressed in their work is one that is common, yet remains challenging for statisticians, engineers and scientists. In the statistical literature, little-to-no published work exists on this important topic. Their unique scale-up modeling and overall approach is important with many potential applications in a wide array of industries and technical disciplines. By combining the principles of statistics and engineering, the honorees created improved models and gained a better understanding of the system.”

Book drive closes chapter on successful United Way campaign

Clayton Finley and Cynthia Hightower help sort books for WRPS' United Way book drive.

Clayton Finley and Cynthia Hightower help sort books for WRPS’ United Way book drive.

Clayton Finley and Cynthia Hightower help sort books for WRPS’ United Way book drive. About 10 employees helped collect, carry and count the books, then sort them into age-appropriate categories. In all, WRPS employees donated 971 books, which will be given to the Benton Franklin Head Start School Readiness Program, the Children’s Reading Foundation of the Mid-Columbia, and the Boys and Girls Club of Benton and Franklin Counties.

WRPS exceeds $1 billion milestone in subcontracting awards

sm bus

Recipients of the WRPS-sponsored 2014 Small Business Incentive grants were recognized recently at a Tri-City Regional Chamber community meeting.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) recently surpassed the $1 billion mark in total subcontract awards issued since taking over the contract in October 2008, with more than 60 percent going to small businesses. WRPS is the Tank Operations Contractor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of River Protection at Hanford, and is responsible for safely managing 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste stored in 177 underground tanks.

Through September 2014, WRPS awarded a total of $1.02 billion in subcontracts. More than $622 million was given to small businesses, which exceeds WRPS’ small business spending goal by more than $30 million.

“This milestone demonstrates our willingness and commitment to promote small business,” said WRPS Small Business Program Manager Mari Roden. “WRPS feels strongly about working with our current small business partners and setting aside funds to reach out to new small businesses to further promote growth and development in the federal marketplace.”

In Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, WRPS spent a total of $165 million in subcontracts, with 67.5 percent given to small businesses. WRPS awarded $78 million to local small businesses in FY 2014.

Subcontracting awards are just one of the many ways WRPS works to promote its small business partners. The company continuously supports area chambers of commerce and procurement technical assistance centers as a way to reach out and promote small business subcontracting in the area and encourage growth of local and regional small businesses.

WRPS sponsors an annual networking event, the Bridging Partnerships Small Business Symposium, which helps local companies learn more about government contracting at Hanford. WRPS also provides funding to support the Tri-City Area Chamber of Commerce’s small business grant program, which offers financial assistance to companies who apply and qualify for the award. WRPS also participates in the DOE Mentor-Protégé program by partnering with local small businesses to create long-lasting relationships, share best practices and lessons learned, and enhance the protégés’ ability to successfully compete for federal contracts.