At the 2015 American Nuclear Society (ANS) Student Conference, held at Texas A&M University, the officers of the Texas A&M Student Chapter of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM), along with faculty from the TEES Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI), led participants in a table-top exercise that focused on the practical applications of nuclear security at facilities. The Nuclear Security Initiative (NSI) is an exercise designed by the faculty at NSSPI to be very similar to the exercises used by technical and public policy officials to simulate security and protection systems for nuclear facilities around the world. For many, this was their first exposure to this sort of analysis. The session was sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The exercise, which was moderated by NSSPI director and Texas A&M professor of nuclear engineering Dr. William Charlton, familiarized students with the basic concepts governing physical protection systems including the design and evaluation of a system to defeat outsider threats. Students were asked to recognize vulnerabilities in a security system implemented in a mock nuclear facility and find ways to bolster the system against different types of security threats. Teams of participants were confronted with a specific nuclear security risk and then tasked with mapping the various pathways an adversary could use to reach the vital nuclear materials. The teams then considered the impact on security due to collusion of an outsider with an insider threat. Lastly they developed strategies that could be employed to mitigate the impact of insider threats.
Students who participated in the activity came from universities across the US, with representation from the University of Tennessee, the University of Wisconsin, Georgia Tech University, the University of New Mexico, and North Carolina State University, among others. After the event, Texas A&M INMM Student Chapter officer Meyappan Subbaiah remarked, “Overall, the participating students felt like this exercise was very informative and helpful. Most students were extremely surprised by the ubiquitous use of physical protection systems in today’s society.”