Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory

  www.kapl.gov
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Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory Reviews

Updated Jul 8, 2014

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2.7 22 reviews

64% Approve of the CEO

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Morgan Smith

(11 ratings)

48% of employees recommend this company to a friend
22 Employee Reviews
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    • Culture & Values
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    • Senior Management
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    • Disapproves of CEO

     

    Good people.losing ground

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

    ProsJob security. Important work. Ethical people.

    ConsFailing in the third generation. Lost focus on technical excellence. Too much government medling.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

     

    A world class laboratory and a great place to work for.

    Safety Engineer (Current Employee) West Milton, NY

    ProsExcellent growth potential. Ability to move around into new and more exciting positions based upon your abilities and willingness to learn. Great employee benefits package. A 9/80 work schedule gave you every other Friday off!

    ConsPay is competitive, but not the best. Amount of work is contingent upon government funding and has its ups and downs. Too much politics, and too much stress.

    Advice to Senior ManagementListen to what your Engineering Staff is telling you rather that telling them what you want to hear.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Never work here

    Mechanical Engineer (Current Employee) Niskayuna, NY

    ProsNever have to work overtime, do whatever you want and get raises, 3 weeks vacation starting, good pay, full benefits.

    ConsIf you have a soul, prepare to have it crushed. There are 2 types of people who work at KAPL: those who are really into their work, and people you might enjoy talking to. They may tell you at the interview how they design high tech nuclear technology, but really all you will be doing is documenting the minutia that has been updated since the last design iteration. And since there is never a real deadline for any work, there is no real motivation to complete it. You will slowly spiral into a state of extreme apathy.

    Like I said, some people enjoy producing paper and are somehow motivated without having a due date, but that is not me. I would say regardless of the position, as an engineer expect to do 10% engineering work and 90% BS documentation and completing forms. And if you're lucky enough to work in a more "hands on" position such as facilities or testing, you will quickly realize that it takes weeks to accomplish mundane tasks due to the procedural hoops you have to jump through. And that "urgent" means get it done in a month, or 2, or whenever.

    Oh, and you can't bring your cell phone to work. Or a hand crank Victrola.

    Advice to Senior ManagementWhen your employees come in an hour late and leave 2 hours early every day, you should be able to recognize boredom. I don't expect anyone to be able to fix it, except maybe offering job connections somewhere else.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Culture & Values
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    Kesselring Site Associate Engineer

    Associate Engineer (Former Employee) Ballston Spa, NY

    ProsJob security. You are lucky to have a job, and will be reminded of that if you complain.

    ConsPoor morale, ineffective management, very slow paced work, federal budget issues complicate project planning (on again/off again), prison-like work environment, too many "that's not my job" attitudes, and the Rickover Principles. Prospective employees, you have been warned.

    Advice to Senior ManagementLose the "empowering the people" attitude. Listen to your people and make the management-level decisions you're paid to make. Stop passing your responsibility down to individual contributors and "functional area leads". Get better at assessing the individual performance of your people. Not everyone is firing on all cylinders, forcing their peers to pickup the slack. Include individual peer reviews in performance assessments. Hold people accountable, stop turning a blind eye. The NNPP as a whole would do better if it got on board with the INPO fundamentals adopted by commercial nuclear. A contractor cannot change the NNPP, but you can make a small site a little better by learning from the commercial industry. Look into how INPO assesses site performance, it is a much more comprehensive and useful assessment than your NR assessments.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Good people, massive bureaucracy

    Librarian (Current Employee) Schenectady, NY

    ProsLots of job security, positive atmosphere from coworkers, easy to change jobs for most employees, and the 9/80 workweek offer is a great way to take 26 fridays off each year.

    ConsMassive bureaucratic overhead. IT security's insistence on maximum information protection makes any technological change happen at a snail's pace. There's not much to entertain yourself in Schenectady outside of work, though -- most of that is in Albany about 30 min away, or Saratoga, 45 min. Being dependent on the federal budget for operating funds means that training, travel and other services can and will be cut during continuing resolutions.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    Much learned during summer internship

    Engineering Intern (Former Employee) Niskayuna, NY

    ProsVery supportive colleagues
    Work on interesting projects that are important to the goals of department
    Learned A LOT in a short time
    9/80 work schedules gives you an extra weekend day every other week
    Ability to get involved in many parts of the company
    Job security
    Management

    ConsNot much to do within 20min radius of location
    No PEDs or regular internet access for security purposes
    Was pretty much on my own with finding temp housing (stipend was provided)

    Advice to Senior ManagementAllowing regular internet access for all will be helpful for work

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    1 person found this helpful  

    Great place to work. Learned a ton.

    Nuclear Engineer (Current Employee) Niskayuna, NY

    ProsI know there are a lot of bad reviews about KAPL on here but I will try to put KAPL in a more positive light. I spent three years at KAPL right after getting my BS in Nuclear Engineering. I was assigned a mentor right away and he was the friendliest and most helpful senior engineer I have encountered. I learned so much my first year there about how nuclear engineering is applied in the real world. My manager gave me the opportunity to not just sit behind a computer and run codes but also to go out and gain hands-on experience conducting experiments/tests aboard actual nuclear submarines. After my first year, KAPL allowed me to get my master's degree (also in Nuclear Engineering) fully-funded. It was a rough schedule to work full time and get my master's but I did it in 1.5 years. KAPL is also located near RPI so some of the master's research was performed there. I really appreciated KAPL for giving me that opportunity. My final year at KAPL I continued to learn more about various nuclear engineering codes and was also given some project management type tasks. The reason I left KAPL after three years was because I grew very interested in methods development. Therefore I left to pursue a PhD in computational sciences applied in nuclear engineering. When I graduate I will definitely consider KAPL (or its sister lab, BETTIS) as one of my top choices!

    Other things I enjoyed:
    -9/80 flex time
    -Flexible vacation/sick days
    -Not too demanding on employees

    ConsWhen I was there, there was a DoE-wide pay freeze which lasted several years. That was an inconvenience but really out of KAPL's hands. There was also a ban on all types of electronics (e.g., cell phones) due to the nature of the work.

    Advice to Senior ManagementNone.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    • No Opinion of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    If you want to work at a prison, this is the place!

    Mechanical Engineer (Former Employee) Niskayuna, NY

    ProsI'll start with the obvious that stick out for me. 1.) Every other Friday off. 2.) You can go to work wanting to do work or not wanting to do work, either way it doesn't matter. A lot of the elders are set in their way and just relax/read the newspaper to pass time. It doesn't matter 3.) Nearly impossible to get layed off.

    ConsNow for the cons, you better grab a comfortable chair to sit for this one. 1.) Its a prison. Literally it’s like being in a prison. Chain linked fence with barbed wire surrounding the perimeter. Unnecessary check points to get into work and to put up with these guys with automatic rifles who think they are in the military but have no privileges once they step outside of KAPL. 2.) No cell phones allowed. After a few months of that, I started to lose it. 3.) No internet. Which is a downer not only for checking personal emails, but when you have to research parts or look up equations. Google is my "clutch" website. How do you operate without the internet???? 4.) Salary. I would say on average they are 15% below national average, that’s just salary. Most companies provide you bonuses which you can tack on another 10% to your salary. But wait, they will tell you "the benefits make up for it". No they don't, benefits are just average.

    Advice to Senior ManagementNo real advice for management. They are just puppets to the DOE and DOD.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

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    • Approves of CEO

    1 person found this helpful  

    I have had the chance to work on different projects in different departments; this has kept work interesting.

    Mechanical Engineer (Current Employee) Schenectady, NY

    ProsAbility to move around different jobs within the company; they make this easy but there is a minimum time required per job (~2 years).
    Job security - don't have to worry about contract expiration upon completion of job. There will always be work - if not in the same department.

    ConsPay is somewhat competitive but don't expect much like the way they pay in private industry. Since its a restricted govt facility, can't bring cell phones and mp3 players on site. The lab is heavily operated by processes and rules and this sometimes brings down effectiveness/efficiency.

    Advice to Senior ManagementWork to provide higher salary and remove barriers that is stifling productivity.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

    • Culture & Values
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    • Approves of CEO

     

    Good experience and room to quickly move up in career, but underpaid.

    Senior Engineer (Current Employee) Schenectady, NY

    ProsChallenging work and good career opportunities

    ConsEngineers are underpaid relative to industry counterparts. Technology is not available for use 'inside the fence'

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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