In 1999, Engineering at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory faced competing priorities to meet critical project milestones, insistent pressures to restructure internally to promote long-term technological growth, and immediate demands to reassign employees as major projects terminated and new ones emerged. This drive for change occurred among an unprecedented level of turmoil within the nuclear weapons design and manufacturing community. I believe the technical problems were more demanding this year and the environment within which they were accomplished more challenging, pushing us to accomplish more during greater turbulence than any other time in my tenure here. I am pleased to report that we met many key milestones and achieved numerous technological breakthroughs. In the project support areas, demands presented by our customers shifted significantly over the year. In the lasers area, we continued the detailed designs for the over $1 billion National Ignition Facility (NIF) super laser, paving the way for the procurement of components and structures for what is probably the largest high-tech construction project in the world. This work was undertaken in an environment of significant management and structural changes, with increased reporting requirements from the Department of Energy, starting in the middle of 1999. Despite these changes, our technical progress since 1995 has resulted in a 5000-fold improvement in the performance/cost characteristics of NIF--only a factor of 2 away from where we need to get. In the defense area, we delivered the first production unit of the refurbished W87 weapon, on schedule, for eventual delivery to the Air Force. Also in the defense area, we developed and implemented a new philosophy for conducting underground materials testing using expendable containment vessels. This allowed us to increase our test throughput rate six-fold and simultaneously reduce cost by a commensurate amount. The first two tests were conducted with a 100 percent data capture rate. came to an end. Within an intense three-month period, Engineering effectively transitioned its 150 employees working on this project to other Laboratory projects. We leveraged our competence in microsystems and biosciences to establish a robust technical presence in the field of biological and chemical weapons defense. This year, we saw successful operational tests of several hand-held versions of our analytical instruments. Concurrently, we saw our efforts in information technologies and medical devices pay off significantly, when both these areas grew robustly. In the operations area, Engineering underwent an important change in its technology investment strategy. In 1998, we consolidated our nine technical thrust areas into five Engineering Technology Centers and restructured these centers to form the Engineering Science and Technology Program, reporting directly to my office. In 1999, we completed the selection of four of the five Directors to lead each of these areas and moved from startup to true enterprise. This 1999 Summary highlights these five Centers.
S. Dimolitsas, C. Gerich
Journal name not available for this finding