Sandia Labs News Releases

Project management jobs pipeline focus of Sandia, University of New Mexico agreement

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management have reached a new agreement to collaborate on project management education and professional development.

Sandia UNM MOU photo

Sandia National Laboratories project management team members review project details ahead of Sandia’s upcoming memorandum of understanding with the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management. From left to right: Robert Lopez, Suzanne McIntosh, Alec Lovato, Tristan Walters and Katrina Crater. (Photo by Norman Johnson) Click on the thumbnail for a high-resolution image.

The memorandum of understanding to be signed Wednesday supports creating a Master of Science degree in project controls, project management and program management at UNM and hands-on internship opportunities at Sandia.

Sandia will provide input on course curriculum, desired skill sets needed at the labs and expertise that will help prepare graduates for a career at Sandia or any future employer.

“Sandia wants job candidates who are best qualified and prepared to contribute to its national security mission,” Sandia program planning and control standards director Jennifer Plummer said. “This agreement helps us accomplish both. Sandia is growing its project management competency, and this will be an extraordinary benefit for the labs.”

Dean Craig White said the agreement forms the basis for an ongoing benefit to the Anderson School, Sandia National Laboratories and the overall community.

Reporters who are interested in learning more about this partnership are invited to the signing ceremony:
What: Sandia Associate Laboratories Director Scott Aeilts and Craig White, dean of UNM’s Anderson School of Management, will sign a memorandum of understanding for project management education and professional development
When: 9 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 31
Where: Lobo Rainforest, 101 Broadway Blvd. NE, Albuquerque
Kristen Meub at (505) 845-7215 or

“Sandia National Laboratories has indicated a strong desire to hire New Mexico students with graduate-level project management education,” White said. “This MOU provides a framework for direct collaboration in developing an outstanding program through internships, continuing education and advice on curriculum and delivery.”

Sandia currently has about 300 project management positions, and 38 percent of those are held by UNM graduates. Tristan Walters, a Sandia manager, said the labs has about 20 job openings in project management and project controls and expects the need to hire skilled project management professionals will continue, especially due to current and upcoming nuclear weapon life extension programs.

“When you look at the demand that came from the B61-12, the W88 ALT and now with the W80-4 and the W78/W88-1 life extension projects on the horizon, we know the need for project management is not going away,” Walters said. “In fact, Sandia’s new prime contract places more emphasis on project management and earned value. This agreement not only positions Sandia to be better prepared to meet those requirements, it also helps us manage our work better.”

Sandia will offer hands-on, project-management internships focused on providing practical project management experience on real programs. Walters said Sandia currently has nine students, and “demand is currently exceeding supply.”

Walters joined Sandia about nine years ago with a Master of Business Administration in finance and international management from UNM. He started as a project financial analyst, but said he “caught the project management bug” because he wanted to become more involved with Sandia’s projects and programs. He earned a project management master’s certificate from George Washington University and ESI International and completed his project management professional certification while working at Sandia.

“I had to learn and figure it out as I went along,” Walters said. “I see this as a real opportunity to better prepare these students. They will enter the workforce ready with the foundation and analytical skills associated with project controls and project management and be better prepared to hit the ground running instead of working through training and qualification. It will be a more direct path for early staff members.”

UNM already offers several project management courses, and current students can work toward a master’s certificate in project management. The new degree is expected to be approved in 18 months to two years, and students will be able to transfer credits from their master’s certificate toward the new Master of Science degree.

“One of the key things about the Master of Science degree is that we want incoming staff to have a broad and general understanding of engineering practices and approaches,” Walters said. “It helps our project management controllers and managers be successful at Sandia. Having a systems engineering approach, or at least understanding those concepts, is going to help them integrate better with their technical teams.”

Sandia National Laboratories is a multimission laboratory operated by National Technology and Engineering Solutions of Sandia LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International Inc., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. Sandia Labs has major research and development responsibilities in nuclear deterrence, global security, defense, energy technologies and economic competitiveness, with main facilities in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Livermore, California.

Sandia news media contact: Kristen Meub,, (505) 845-7215