Los Alamos engineer honored for advancement of women in nondestructive testing

Sarah White’s leadership is bringing more women into this important field

November 9, 2021

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Los Alamos National Laboratory engineer Sarah White was recently recognized by the American Society for Nondestructive Testing (NDT) for encouraging women to enter and thrive in this specialized field.

Most NDT supports industrial applications — for example, ensuring bridges are structurally sound using techniques such as X-rays. But at the Laboratory, NDT is applied to nuclear weapons.

For more than 22 years, White has been part of the Non-Destructive Testing and Evaluation group and is now its group leader. In support of the nuclear weapons stockpile, this group provides R&D and uses state-of-the-art methods of inspection and nondestructive testing at Los Alamos’ radiological facilities.

White was working on her master’s degree in nuclear engineering at the University of Florida when she took an elective in non-destructive evaluation, and then focused her career in that direction when she joined Los Alamos.

“When I started, there were only two females in the field here,” she said. “Now women make up about 35% of our organization.”

Over the years, White has seen changes in the demographic of employees working in her field — including gender, educational background, and culture. “Diversity brings different means of interpreting data. Different perspectives can put puzzle pieces together in new ways, creating a different picture, which is invaluable,” she said.

About ASNT

The American Society for Nondestructive Testing, Inc. (ASNT) has a membership of more than 14,000. It was founded in 1941 under the name of the American Industrial Radium and X-Ray Society.