For Immediate Release
Contact: Sonya Johnson
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., December 10, 2018 – When it comes to leadership roles in Department of Energy projects, Harold Conner is something of a legend. Over the span of a half century, his knowledge, talent and natural curiosity have propelled him on a diverse journey through almost every part of the DOE complex, eventually bringing him back to where he started – the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge.
He returned to Tennessee with an impressive resume and a collection of industry awards recognizing his distinguished lifetime achievements – the latest coming in November when he was named an American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) Fellow. Fellow is AIChE’s highest level of membership and is achieved only through election by the AIChE Board of Directors based on lifetime career achievements. Conner received the honor at the 2018 AIChE National Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This is Conner’s second such honor from an industry group. In 2017, he was named a Fellow by the American Society for Engineering Management.
A native of Martin, Tennessee, and the son of school teachers, Harold Conner became the first African-American student to enroll in engineering at the University of Tennessee – Martin. In 1968, he was UT’s first African-American to earn a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, which he followed in 1978 with a master’s in chemical engineering from UT. A registered professional engineer in Tennessee and South Carolina, he earned his Ph.D. in Industrial and Systems Engineering from the University of Alabama — Huntsville.
While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Conner began his career as a co-op student at the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant. His entry-level co-op routine of working one quarter and going to school the next eventually earned him a full-time job. He spent the next 33 years working in almost every facility at ETTP, eventually being named K-25 Site Manager and later Vice President of Environmental Management and Enrichment Facilities (EMEF) by Lockheed Martin. In that role, he managed 3,000 workers and a $500 million budget for EMEF located in Oak Ridge, Paducah, and Portsmouth.
A career veteran of multiple nuclear projects, Conner currently serves as Senior Advisor to Kenneth J. Rueter, UCOR President and Chief Executive Officer. An AECOM-led partnership with Jacobs, UCOR is lead cleanup contractor for the Department of Energy’s East Tennessee Technology Park, former home of the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, and other sites on the Oak Ridge Reservation.
Over the years, Conner’s career has taken him to DOE sites across the country – including the Paducah, KY, and Portsmouth, OH, Gaseous Diffusion Plants, the Y-12 Plant, the Idaho National Laboratory, the Savannah River Site in South
Carolina, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. He picked up a few awards along the way, including the prestigious UT Knoxville Alumni Professional Achievement Award and the Secretary of Energy Award of Achievement. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the UT Nuclear Engineering Department.