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The Apple Doesn’t Fall Far from the Battelle Tree
Each of our career paths were shaped and influenced by many important people in our lives. Teachers sparked an interest in a subject area. Mentors gave us key pieces of advice at crucial moments. Managers saw something in us and gave us opportunities. Family members encouraged us to do our best and cheered us on.
For a few Battelle employees, their dads had a big impact on not only their career path but their choice of employer. This Father’s Day, we take a look at some of those stories.
Bob Baur and Josh Baur
Bob Baur with Josh Baur
Bob Baur has worked at Battelle for 27 years and is a task leader for analytical chemistry projects that determine chemical fingerprints of substances related to national security, environmental and health issues. His son Josh Baur has worked at Battelle for nearly 15 years, starting his career at our West Jefferson campus before moving to his current role in national security research. Josh also met his wife Brittany, Master Technician in the Health business unit, at Battelle.
“I probably would not have considered applying to Battelle had my dad not worked here,” said Josh. “Getting to do cool science for our customers to achieve their missions in my previous and current roles are what make every day at work worth it.”
As a kid, Josh attended Take Your Child to Work Day events with his dad, even meeting a program manager he would eventually work on a program for as an adult. Now, the father and son are working on an independent research and development project together.
Josh's Battelle badge from a childhood visit
“It has been really cool to collaborate directly on projects. I love that he works at a place where he can use his creativity and tackle meaningful technical challenges,” said Bob.
Bob Vuksinick and Danielle Vuksinick
Bob Vuksinick with daughter Danielle Vuksinick
Bob Vuksinick has been supporting demilitarization programs for more than two decades. He started as a munitions handler in Tooele, Utah, before coming over to Battelle to support air monitoring at the site. He later transitioned the Pueblo Chemical Agent-Destruction Pilot Plant in Colorado, where he now serves as a branch shift manager. His daughter Danielle Vuksinick has been a part of the PCAPP team for eight months.
“I maintain and use monitoring equipment for the safety of people and the environment,” said Danielle. “My dad working in demil certainly made me curious. Now that I'm old enough, I realize how important this work is.”
Bob with his two young children
The Vuksinicks work different shifts, so they often say “good morning” or “good night” to each other at shift change, as they join a team that’s picking up work where the other’s team left off. Getting to share a career experience with his daughter has been meaningful for Bob.
“I couldn’t be prouder of Danielle,” he said. “To be able to talk shop with her at home and hear about her journey is something not everyone gets to experience. My son also worked with us for a short time, and it really is a lot of fun listening to the conversations they have. I am proud to be a part of the Battelle family, and I am glad they can share this with me.”
Kent Hofacre and Kyle Hofacre
Kent and Kyle Hofacre
For 35 years, Kent Hofacre has applied his chemical engineering expertise to technology development and assessment projects at Battelle related to personnel protection, hazard detection and air quality. His work spans three business units. His son Kyle Hofacre started his Battelle journey as an intern nine years ago before joining the company full time and now develops software applications for a variety of programs in the CBRNE business line.
While Kent has always supported Kyle, he has tried to limit his involvement and influence in Kyle’s work so he could develop his own identity and demonstrate his technical expertise on his own merits.
“When Kyle started, he was initially mostly known as Kent’s son, and now I’m known by many as Kyle’s dad,” said Kent. “That’s the way it should be. You want your kids to be better than you.”
Kyle has fond childhood memories of his dad’s work—his dad bringing gas masks to his school for career day, playing with the office supplies and typewriter in his dad’s office with his siblings, and his dad’s coworkers taking them to see neat lab equipment when Kent could no longer focus with rambunctious triplets in his office. Those experiences helped inspire Kyle to pursue a career in science and technology.
“In high school and college, I was able to understand better the kind of work he and others were doing at Battelle and found it very interesting. It quickly became clear to me I wanted to follow in his footsteps,” said Kyle. “There have been so many great employees that I’ve met that have worked with my dad (some now with me!). Some of the best experiences are when they tell me all the great stories of working with him over the years.”
Hofacre triplets in lab with Curtis Bridges
Among Kent’s coworkers who Kyle remembers meeting as a kid is Curtis Bridges, who entertained him by making nitrile glove balloons and freezing rubber bands in liquid nitrogen. But, Kyle certainly isn’t the only future Battelle employee Curtis inspired.
Curtis Bridges and Chandler Bridges
Curtis’ son Chandler Bridges now works at Battelle. Chandler started his time at Battelle as an intern in 2018 and progressed through technician, researcher and team supervisory roles, before transitioning to his current assignment as the Chief of Staff for the Applied Science & Technology group. His dad’s positive experience at Battelle played a major role in the career path Chandler chose to pursue.
“To me, he made science fun and exciting,” said Chandler. “My dad spoke highly of Battelle and even more so about the people who worked here. Ever since high school, my dad stressed the importance of getting involved and eventually applying to Battelle for an internship. He was ecstatic when I got accepted and knew I would be in good hands.”
The elder Bridges worked as a technician at Battelle from 1971 to 2014, supporting a range of research programs. Over those years, he’d occasionally take young Chandler on work trips and allow him to serve as his co-pilot as they drove from state to state. As he got older, he connected his son with senior researchers to learn about the work happening in the lab.
“Little did I understand at the time, my dad was creating pathways for me to visualize success through connections and understanding career paths,” said Chandler. “Many of the connections are still here at Battelle today, which I am grateful for.”
Curtis Bridges holding baby Chandler
Before he died in 2020, Curtis shared his reflections on the great career he had at Battelle. His big personality and ability to engage anyone in conversation left an impact on so many people. Getting to be a part of Battelle, both for the organization’s mission of helping others and the connection to his dad, is very meaningful for Chandler.
“We would always talk about how to measure success and lead a meaningful life—helping others and your name outliving your physical self,” said Chandler. “Battelle allowed my dad to not only explore the many avenues of aerosol science but also created some lasting memories through his connections with coworkers. It feels like I always meet someone new who has a story of my dad.”
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