In November 2012, U.S. Army Colonel Edward Naessens sent a letter to then-Laboratory Director Charlie McMillan. “The United States Military Academy at West Point requests that the Los Alamos National Laboratory detail a technically qualified staff member to teach in the Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering (PaNE),” Naessens wrote. “The position would require teaching approximately half-time, with the remainder of the time spent in scholarship, supervision of cadet and faculty research projects, faculty development, and participation in cadet development activities.”
Naessens, the PaNE department head, was hoping to strengthen the relationship between the Army and Los Alamos, which began more than 75 years ago during the Manhattan Project, which was directed by Army Lieutenant General Leslie Groves.
“Colonel Naessens sets the standard for the modern thinking soldier,” says physicist Leo Bitteker, the first Los Alamos scientist to teach at West Point. Although the Army does not currently have a direct role in the nuclear triad, Army officers serve in key decision-making bodies that relate to nuclear weapons; Naessens had the foresight to realize the importance of building connections between the cadets—aka future officers—and scientists. Read more.