US Federal Commission invests $400K in Pitt Nuclear Engineering Program
PITTSBURGH (August 21, 2018) … The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) awarded $400,000 to the University of Pittsburgh to support two graduate fellowships in nuclear engineering over the next four years.
Daniel Cole, associate professor of mechanical engineering and materials science (MEMS) and director of the Swanson School of Engineering's Stephen R. Tritch Program in Nuclear Engineering, will serve as principal investigator for the project.
"The Nuclear Engineering Program dates back to 2006 when industry partners approached the Swanson School leadership for assistance with current and projected workforce development challenges," Dr. Cole said. "We started undergraduate and graduate certificate programs in Nuclear Engineering and have grown the program since."
In 2017, thermal science researcher Heng Ban joined the Swanson School's MEMS department as R. K. Mellon Professor in Energy. He will serve as co-principal investigator of the project along with adjunct professor Thomas Congedo. Dr. Ban will be responsible for research and relationships with national labs involved in nuclear energy, and Dr. Congedo will establish industry relationships and act as a career advisor for fellows.
Both professors will leverage the strong regional presence of labs and companies involved in nuclear power technology in southwestern Pennsylvania including Westinghouse, General Electric, Bettis Naval Nuclear Laboratory, Bechtel Plant Machinery Inc., Holtec International Corporation, and FirstEnergy.
"Our program began with a strong educational focus on nuclear operations, and we have recruited reputable full-time faculty to the Swanson School who are capable of bringing in graduate fellowship awards from organizations like the NRC," said Dr. Cole.
The NRC awarded 51 grants totaling more than $15 million in 2018 to 40 academic institutions. Recipients included four-year universities and colleges, two-year trade schools and community colleges, and other institutions federally recognized as educational establishments. The grants specifically focus on developing individuals with skills to benefit nuclear advancement and safety in fields such as health physics, radiochemistry, probabilistic risk assessment, seismology, and other nuclear-related areas.
"These two new fellows will receive an educational experience that leads to a PhD and either a graduate certificate or MS in Nuclear Engineering and help grow the research portion of our program," said Dr. Cole. "In addition to providing classes in nuclear engineering, we will really be able to push the development of cutting-edge nuclear technologies for the benefit of regional industry and the surrounding communities."