The AggiE-Challenge team, led by faculty advisor, NSSPI faculty member Dr. Sunil Chirayath, and graduate student advisor Evans Kitcher, was one of over 100 teams to participate in the 2013 TAMU Engineering Project Showcase on April 19. The team consists of eleven junior and senior level undergraduate students from the departments of Nuclear Engineering and Industrial and Systems Engineering.
The project, titled “Multi-Disciplinary Approach to Effectively Interdict Highly Enriched Uranium Smuggling,” addresses one of the grand challenges articulated by the National Academy of Engineering, namely, “Prevention of Nuclear Terrorism.” Only a few tens of kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) are required to build a nuclear bomb but more than one million kilograms of HEU exists in the world. A concern is that HEU could be stolen and smuggled into the U.S., either as HEU or as a nuclear weapon, for acts of nuclear terrorism. Securing the U.S. borders against attempts to transport HEU is a national priority. Current nuclear material detection technology is inadequate for several important HEU smuggling scenarios. One of the most difficult challenges is the interdiction of shielded HEU being smuggled into the U.S. in cargo containers or border crossing vehicles. The team was subdivided into two smaller teams focused on specific scenarios associated with this issue. Team A presented the strategic network analysis to solve the problem for the smuggling of HEU into the US through border crossings in cars and trucks, and Team B presented the strategic network analysis to solve the problem for the smuggling of HEU into the US through sea ports in cargo containers.
For more information on the TAMU Engineering Project Showcase, along with a list of all participating project teams, see the TAMU Engineering website.