LANL CPO Director Discusses Lab Impacts

CPO Director Kurt Steinhaus. Courtesy/LANL


Kurt Steinhaus, director of community programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory, spoke at Kiwanis Jan. 21, addressing the laboratory’s commitment to the community.

In a biographical statement provided to Kiwanis before he spoke, Steinhaus said his work “is focused on math, science, engineering and technology education, technical assistance for small businesses and helping entrepreneurs start new companies, and partnering with non-profit organizations to advance their strategic goals.”

He is a former deputy cabinet secretary for the New Mexico Public Education Department, and a former professor of graduate education at the University of New Mexico (UNM.)

Steinhaus provided his audience with handouts on the laboratory’s “impacts and investments in Los Alamos County” and on the lab’s “Community Commitment Plan and its leverage-sustainability-pipeline approach. Some of the figures in those handouts were eye-opening—even eye-popping.

Below are just a few of these figures, taken directly from the speaker’s handouts and selected to illustrate the lab’s impact, efforts to sustain impact, and reach for the future.

  • As of February 2013, the laboratory was paying “$414,431,455 in annual base salaries” to LANL employees (excluding contractors and craft employees) in Los Alamos County.
  • In fiscal year 2012, LANL purchased $193,827,533 in products and services from Los Alamos County businesses.
  • In FY12, LANL employees gave 1,981 volunteer hours to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and enrichment initiatives in Los Alamos County. Students and teachers from four elementary schools, the middle school, and the high school participated in one or more of the laboratory’s regional education programs.
  • In 2012, 13 students from Los Alamos High School and the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos were awarded a total of $88,000 in academic scholarships.
  • In 2012, the Bradbury Science Museum’s science education activities reached 6,142 Los Alamos County students and community members.
  • The laboratory invests $100,000 a year in the UNM-LA Applied Technology Program,  which offers concentrations in electro-mechanical, nano and manufacturing technologies.
  • Since 2006, 37 Los Alamos businesses have received assistance from one or more Los Alamos Connect and New Mexico Small Business Assistance economic development programs.
  • In 2013, the LANL Annual Employee Giving Campaign provided $2,929,526 to the United Way of Northern New Mexico, which serves Los Alamos and Rio Arriba Counties.
  • Los Alamos National Security (LANS, the operator of the laboratory) has a Venture Acceleration Fund that has helped 30 companies over the last several years. Of those companies, 70 percent have added jobs and salaries through the years; 63 percent have obtained additional financing; and 83 percent are still in business. A total of $2.4 million in VAF awards have generated a $48 million return on investment.
  • LANS is working to make its successful investments lasting. In terms of money: All companies receiving VAF awards in 2013 have agreed to return funds to LANS for future investments once they reach a certain level of financial success and/or have found other funding sources. In terms of people, two examples: The computer science faculty position at New Mexico Highlands University was originally funded by LANS but is now fully endowed and no longer requests LANS funding. And the Nursing and Teacher Preparation Programs at Northern New Mexico College now generate state funding through student enrollment and no longer need LANS funding.
  • About $225,000 from LANS leveraged $39 million in federal funding to complete the Northern New Mexico broadband infrastructure project.
  • About 41 percent of the laboratory’s employees are native New Mexicans.
  • And the LANS Math and Science Academy (MSA), aimed at improving teaching by increasing content knowledge, assessed the improvement in teachers’ understanding of “matter” in science education in June 2013. The average score on a pre-test was 52 percent. The average score on a post-test taken after teachers completed the program was 85 percent. A boxed fact on one of the Steinhaus handouts said, “95 percent of MSA participants strongly agree that the science content they learned in the 2013 Science Leadership Institute will make them a more effective teacher….”