Hommert ends 5-year stint at Sandia’s helm

Written by  on May 22, 2015 

It also simplified the process to license technology and reached out to local investors to encourage new product commercialization.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen how aggressively a new director will pursue the commercialization of new technology developed at the lab. – which works to facilitate tech transfer at Sandia and other national laboratories – said the process has been institutionalized enough to keep commercialization efforts going.

Hommert leaves behind some big shoes for a successor to fill after guiding the lab through some particularly challenging times that included budget constraints as federal officials wrangled over efforts to cut the government deficit, along with the launch of a nuclear weapons modernization program that handed Sandia one of its biggest endeavors since before the Cold War ended.

“He really got things going in the right direction,” said Lisa Kuuttila, president and CEO of the Science and Technology Corp., UNM’s tech-transfer office. That includes modernization of the air-launched B61 nuclear bomb, the W88 missile designed for submarine launch, and the ground-launched Mk21 intercontinental cruise missile.

“Under Paul’s leadership, Sandia has excelled in carrying out research and development to ensure America’s economic and technological competitiveness while advancing key initiatives across the nuclear security enterprise,” Moniz said in a statement. And nearly $400 million more is used to purchase goods and services from local vendors.

“I believe technology transfer will continue to be a very critical part of the lab mission, and I would expect whoever comes after Paul will continue to follow the precedent he set,” Freisinger said.

The new lab head will also need to dedicate resources to upgrade lab infrastructure, since budget constraints have restricted such investments in the past few years, Hommert said. “We did a lot of hiring and training and process improvements, while at the same time managing many other programs in energy research and international security work. “Paul has promoted innovative approaches to new and challenging scenarios.”

“Given the magnitude of it, many in Washington questioned if we could do it all,” Hommert said. “I’m optimistic the DOE will pick a new director that will continue to strengthen those efforts.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. The lab employs more than 10,000 people – about 9,500 here and the rest in California. “The timing for my retirement is consistent with commitments made to the Sandia board of directors and my family when I accepted this position some five years ago.”

However, despite budget constraints and uncertainties in recent years, Hommert said, the next director will likely enjoy some funding stability, at least temporarily.

About 1,000 Sandians are employed on those projects, although the B61 effort is by far the largest, with about 600 employees working on it.

In fact, in October, Hommert announced plans to open a Center for Collaboration and Commercialization at the Sandia Science and Technology Park next to the lab.

Hommert leaves behind a major weapons modernization program that’s on budget and on schedule.

“From what I’m seeing in the new budget submissions from the president and in Congress, it looks to be stable for 2016, and I expect that to continue into 2017,” Hommert told the Journal. And management must remain flexible to meet new, unforeseen challenges.

“The world we live in throws curves all the time,” Hommert said. — Copyright © 2015 Albuquerque Journal

“The process to name my successor is well underway and will be complete in time to support a smooth leadership transition,” Hommert said. We were able to balance it all, and that’s a record of achievement I’m very proud of.”

John Freisinger, head of Technology Ventures Corp. “After that, there will be a change in administration and it becomes harder to predict.

“There are some major critical tests of the B61 coming up in the summer and fall, and by 2017, the program will begin to make the transition to production agencies,” Hommert said.

U.S. But even with the uncertainty in recent years, we’ve fared pretty well because the lab is seen as a high priority for national security, and that’s a stabilizer.”

The lab, for example, has strengthened its joint research and technology transfer efforts with UNM to develop common intellectual property that could be spun out into startup companies. “The lab needs to be prepared to address new situations and to be ready to anticipate them.”

Sandia National Laboratories Director Paul Hommert said Tuesday that he will retire by midsummer, ending a five-year stint as lab head and a 41-year career.

Paul Hommert, director of Sandia National LaboratoriesPaul Hommert, director of Sandia National Laboratories.. About 59 percent of its $2.7 billion budget is spent on labor and non-contract-related payments. That’s something Hommert took a particularly active stance on, developing strong collaborative ties with the local business community and the University of New Mexico.

The next director, however, will need to keep the modernization momentum going, because the first newly refurbished B61s are projected to roll of the assembly line in 2020.

Changes in Sandia leadership, or in its funding or program priorities, can have significant effects on New Mexico. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz said Hommert was particularly successful in managing such challenges.

Under Hommert’s leadership, the lab spent considerable energy preparing the logistics to manage the program.

A new director is expected to be announced before Hommert leaves the lab.

Sandia is working with other labs and the military to upgrade three nuclear warheads to extend their life

Max Lyons

Max Lyons

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Max Lyons

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