Oak Ridge National Laboratory

  www.ornl.gov
  www.ornl.gov
There are newer employer reviews for Oak Ridge National Laboratory

 

It's luck of the draw getting onto a good research project

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Research Intern in Oak Ridge, TN
Current Employee - Research Intern in Oak Ridge, TN

I have been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Pros

- flexible hours (get in 8 hrs a day but there is no specific time-frame you must be here)
- plenty of great resources and facilities to aid in research

Cons

- lots of bureaucracy
- most people worried about funding more than research

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Hire a better PR team and maybe you wouldn't have to worry about funding so much.
Everyone and their mother knows what the latest cool/amazing work that is being done a Google,MIT,etc...I work here and I haven't heard about ANY exciting research from oak ridge.

Doesn't Recommend
No opinion of CEO

98 Other Employee Reviews for Oak Ridge National Laboratory (View Most Recent)

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  1.  

    Satisfactory

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Research Associate in Charleston, SC
    Current Employee - Research Associate in Charleston, SC

    I have been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    Pros

    Commitment to community resilience -- a very good cause

    Cons

    Worked tied to a DHS earmark, so sustained funding has been an issue.

    Recommends
    No opinion of CEO
  2. 2 people found this helpful  

    Technical stovepipes are productive but self serving.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Staff Scientist in Oak Ridge, TN
    Current Employee - Staff Scientist in Oak Ridge, TN

    I have been working at Oak Ridge National Laboratory

    Pros

    ORNL is DOE/SC's largest open science lab, with emphases on high performance computing, neutron sources, bioenergy, nanotechnology, and other sciences. It is currently managed by UT-Battelle, which is responsible for managing the facility and employing most of the work force.

    A benefit to employment at ORNL is access to world-class instruments and staff. Since ca. 2000, the lab has been constructing many new facilities and there has been an emphasis on growth of the laboratory in terms of staff and programs. This has produced a work environment that expects new growth and new development. This growth makes ORNL an exciting and potentially professionally rewarding place to work.

    Technical staff supporting research and development are typically broadly qualified., open-minded, friendly and high spirited. Many are local to the East Tennessee area and many have been at the lab their entire career. However, there is a significant percentage of both non-TN and non-US employees. The turnover rate at ORNL appears to be low and the retention rate appears to be high.

    Cons

    ORNL is required to be aligned with the DOE mission. This often causes major program development at the lab to be 'on hold' until support from DOE is gained. This process depends on politics at the state and national level, and the responsibility for this falls to the ORNL Leadership Team and its Director.

    In recent history, ORNL has done well in securing program growth in several areas, but that has come with sacrifice in other areas ('you can't be the best at everything'). As such, satisfaction at ORNL often requires the employee be aligned with one of the lab's mission areas. This can be frustrating for those seeking opportunities either in areas not part of the lab vision or in areas already 'claimed' by management as their own. That is to say, ORNL is not a university setting where the best of the best in research will surface. Rather it is more of a development facility, where the payoff in a technical area is already well appreciated and management is 'on board' with the program.

    A second hindrance for the staff scientist at ORNL is the high overhead. High overhead causes a high charge out rate, which increases costs and program expense. Some of this cost is justified as DOE requires ORNL to implement certain programs, adhere to certain regulatory standards, etc. However, there is also little pressure for the ORNL manager, currently UT-Battelle, to substantially reduce overhead. First, as a not-for-profit entity, the ORNL manager does not necessarily gain more from reducing overhead (there is no additional profit from practicing efficient business). Also, there is no rigorous standard for employment, so under performing employees or program are not easily identified or improved.

    A final concern for the staff scientist at ORNL is the lack of any professional development programs or career paths. While there are grades of scientist, the grading process is not standardized or objective. Rather it falls to mid-level managers to make promotion based on their opinions and assessments. Again, this depends strongly on how the employee is aligned with the lab's mission areas. In turn, this may stifle the creative spirit that is often the source of basic scientific discovery.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    ORNL does a good job in developing its identified technical programs, but it does a poor job in thinking outside of the box. Employee assessments are subjective and, seemingly, arbitrary. Improvements in program growth and staff development should be prioritized.

    Recommends
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