W.S. Charlton, D.G.Ford, “Implementation of a Pilot Course at Texas A&M University on Designing Nuclear Security Systems”, 52nd Annual Meeting of the Institute for Nuclear Materials Management (INMM), Palm Desert, CA, July 17-21, 2011.
In 2009, Texas A&M University (TAMU) began working with the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) to perform voluntary upgrades to the security systems for the nuclear and radiological materials on campus. Those upgrades were successfully completed and a commitment was made by TAMU to maintain and periodically performance test the security system. As part of the GTRI upgrade process, it became apparent that typical nuclear engineering and health physics curricula do not instruct students on designing and evaluating nuclear security systems. This lack of basic education in this area lengthened much of the GTRI upgrade process since the personnel involved on site had to be educated ‘on the job’. With help from Sandia National Laboratory (SNL), TAMU developed a pilot course on designing and evaluating nuclear security systems which was implemented as an undergraduate course in Spring 2011. The course had 19 students enrolled in it and covered the science and engineering associated with the design, evaluation, and implementation of systems to secure nuclear and radiological materials. The course material included characterization of the adversary, categorization of targets and the consequences associated with failure to protect those targets, detection and delay technologies, on-site and off-site response as well as different response strategies, evaluation of insider threats, mathematical methods for evaluating risk due to the threat and the security system design, and methods for risk minimization. Students completing this course should have a broad picture of nuclear security components and their interconnections into a sustainable nuclear security program.