On April 25th, the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) held an event to celebrate its tenth anniversary. NSSPI students, faculty, and staff joined with administrators and collaborators from the Department of Nuclear Engineering, the Bush School of Government and Public Service, and various other departments across the Texas A&M University System to mark this milestone. As part of the program, current NSSPI director, Dr. Sunil Chirayath, along with founding NSSPI director, Dr. William Charlton, and nuclear engineering department head, Dr. Yassin Hassan, spoke on the history of NSSPI and its success over the past 10 years.
The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents established NSSPI as a joint institute of Texas A&M and Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station in their meeting of March 23-24, 2006. NSSPI was the first university-based institute with a higher-education mission in the U.S. to focus specifically on the technical aspects of nuclear security and the interface between nuclear security science and national and international policy. NSSPI’s earliest activities focused on promoting graduate-level education and research in nuclear material safeguards and enhancing national security against nuclear terrorism. This was done largely in collaboration with the Bush School. More recently, NSSPI has also become very involved in nuclear security workforce development abroad in countries such as India, Indonesia, Brazil, Jordan, and Nigeria.
In the past ten years, NSSPI students in the Department of Nuclear Engineering earned 49 M.S. degrees, three M.E. degrees, and 18 Ph.D. degrees through sponsored research in nuclear security and related topics. These students have gone on to jobs in various national laboratories, federal agencies, academia, and the nuclear industry. NSSPI research projects also supported numerous graduate students in other research areas within nuclear engineering, as well as other departments across campus, including the Bush School, mathematics, industrial and systems engineering, electrical engineering, political science, computer science, chemical engineering, and statistics.
NSSPI students learn about nuclear security through traditional classes and laboratory exercises on campus, but they also get to experience nuclear security through hands-on short courses at national laboratories, international and domestic nuclear facilities experiences, interactions with other young nuclear security professionals around the world through international workshops and meetings, and research projects in nuclear security topics. Texas A&M also founded the first student chapter of the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM), which is advised by NSSPI faculty and has led to the creation of similar student INMM chapters in the U.S. and around the world.
As part of the celebration, NSSPI compiled a video of interviews from people who were instrumental to the founding and continued success of NSSPI as an organization, as well as videos from former students, current students, and collaborators. This video is included, below.