Lawrence Mullins: North American Branch member

This month I am taking the opportunity to profile another BINDT North American Branch member. Larry Mullins’ history demonstrates the winding journey that an NDT profession often takes.

Larry’s NDT career got started in 1974, when he dropped out of college and went to work on a military construction project. The project involved a submarine prototype based on American Society for Mechanical Engineers (ASME) and US Navy standards. Larry was assigned to the quality control group, where he was trained in the visual testing (VT), magnetic particle testing (MT), penetrant testing (PT), ultrasonic testing (UT) and radiographic testing (RT) methods under the tutelage of great mentors. The project lasted four and a half years, until the completion of an operational nuclear submarine. One mentor in particular, Ken Grover, facilitated Larry’s next opportunity.

This opportunity was with an authorised inspection agency in Boston, Factory Mutual, as a third-party authorised inspector. Within two years he had attained additional experience and was appointed to senior staff as Nuclear and In-Service Examination Supervisor. The depth of his boiling water reactor experience would lead to his next assignment.

After four years with the Boston agency, Larry was recruited by Yankee Atomic Electric, a nuclear power utility in New England, as an in-service inspection support engineer. Major issues were evolving with cracking in the primary piping circuit. The challenge required evolving and re-thinking ultrasonic inspection technology. This was an international issue and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) coordinated world-class experts to develop solutions. The Yankee team was the first to evolve effective detection protocols. Larry was the first technician to pass the EPRI qualification examination for intergranular stress corrosion cracking size measurement and became the trainer for other technicians. Ultimately, Vermont Yankee was the first to qualify the semi-automated UT processes used in both in-service and pre-service ASME exams.

During his nine years working with the utility, Larry obtained Level III certification in VT, UT, RT, MT and PT methods and the full complement of EPRI endorsements. He became a Principal Engineer and obtained his Bachelor’s degree in materials at the University of Massachusetts and he was honoured by its president.

Seeking a calmer existence, Larry was open to recruitment by a government laboratory, an arm of the US Department of Energy, and was hired without the requisite advanced degree based on his previous experience with nuclear power plants and EPRI. His assignment was as Staff Engineer supporting the US Navy. He was given a staff of 30 to support the US fleet across the globe.

After 20 years and at the age of 48 he was the ‘old guy’ in the NDT Engineering group and was made Advisory Engineer. This was a de facto retirement with responsibilities focusing on technology development and NDT codes and standards implementation.

Larry continues to work with ASME on code development and NDT-related training. He consults with equipment manufacturers, service vendors, construction companies and government agencies. He is contracted to the US Navy as Subject Matter Expert for NDT. He is ASNT Regional Director for New England and is a member of the ASNT Engineering Council.

Larry was honoured as a Fellow with ASNT in 2017 and certified as a Chartered Engineer with the Engineering Council in 2019.

Larry is marred to Lee Ann. They share seven children and nine grandchildren. Larry somehow finds time to be an active grandfather amid responses for advice, problem solving, training and NDT assistance. He is a remarkable man and a model for all of us in the world of NDT.

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