Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory

  www.kapl.gov
  www.kapl.gov

Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory Reviews

Updated October 2, 2014
Updated October 2, 2014
25 Reviews
2.9
25 Reviews
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Morgan Smith
12 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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  1.  

    Construction in Government facility

    • Senior Management
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Construction Superintendent in Schenectady, NY
    Former Employee - Construction Superintendent in Schenectady, NY

    I worked at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    steady work,safety training,secure facility,time off policies

    Cons

    many rules and regulations,hard to get work done

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  2.  

    Stuck in the Past

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I worked at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    Lots of training available. Able to work compressed work week. A lot of vacation. Helping support national defense??

    Cons

    Antiquated technology and low salaries. Management has unrealistic expectations. No longer overs a pension. No internet or personal electronic devices. Feels like working in a prison.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Pay your employees and don't treat them like children

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  3. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good culture, comfortable work schedule, moderate pay

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Schenectady, NY
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Schenectady, NY

    I have been working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory full-time (more than 5 years)

    Pros

    Good people work here; everyone is very supportive and friendly. The pace of work is usually relaxed. You can switch groups relatively easily to try a lot of different types of work but switching groups can take 4-8 months. 9/80 schedule is a plus. Job security is good. The work-life balance is good, you work 40hrs per week and are not allowed to do work outside offsite

    Cons

    No personal electronics allowed on site. The bureaucracy of a government lab means progress is slow and the satisfaction of project completion or success is very infrequent. The pay isn't great and the poor economy and ineffectiveness of Congress in passing a budget may result in a salary freeze. A high percentage of people hired quit within 5 years due to falling behind in salary and lack of job satisfaction.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Many people at KAPL do not feel valued as performance assessments focus on fitting people to a rating bell curve vs actual evaluation the employee's performance. A lack of job satisfaction, small salary actions (regardless of rating, 1% spread between a PA rating of 3 vs 5), and the salaries being below industry average do not motivate anyone to stay. I would recommend making a bigger celebration of successful completion of projects and rating employees fairly vs fitting performance to a bell curve. Improving salary actions would also help.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
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  5. 1 person found this helpful  

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

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Safety Engineer in West Milton, NY
    Current Employee - Safety Engineer in West Milton, NY

    I have been working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory full-time (more than 10 years)

    Pros

    Excellent 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!

    Cons

    Pay 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 ManagementAdvice

    Listen to what your Engineering Staff is telling you rather that telling them what you want to hear.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  6.  

    Good people.losing ground

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory

    Pros

    Job security. Important work. Ethical people.

    Cons

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

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
  7. 5 people found this helpful  

    Never work here

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Niskayuna, NY
    Current Employee - Mechanical Engineer in Niskayuna, NY

    I have been working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (more than an year)

    Pros

    Never have to work overtime, do whatever you want and get raises, 3 weeks vacation starting, good pay, full benefits.

    Cons

    If 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 ManagementAdvice

    When 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  8.  

    Kesselring Site Associate Engineer

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Associate Engineer in Ballston Spa, NY
    Former Employee - Associate Engineer in Ballston Spa, NY

    I worked at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

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

    Cons

    Poor 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 ManagementAdvice

    Lose 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    No opinion of CEO
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Good people, massive bureaucracy

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Librarian in Schenectady, NY
    Current Employee - Librarian in Schenectady, NY

    I have been working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    Lots 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.

    Cons

    Massive 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.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    Much learned during summer internship

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Engineering Intern in Niskayuna, NY
    Former Employee - Engineering Intern in Niskayuna, NY

    I worked at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory as an intern (less than an year)

    Pros

    Very 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

    Cons

    Not 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 ManagementAdvice

    Allowing regular internet access for all will be helpful for work

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

    Great place to work. Learned a ton.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Nuclear Engineer in Niskayuna, NY
    Current Employee - Nuclear Engineer in Niskayuna, NY

    I have been working at Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    I 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

    Cons

    When 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 ManagementAdvice

    None.

    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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