From March 8-11, the Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives (NSSPI) organized a trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for nine graduate students in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University and two students from the International Affairs program of the Bush School for Government and Public Service. The students participated in a Fundamentals of Non-Destructive Assay (NDA) short course led by staff in the ORNL Safeguards Laboratory and toured lab facilities. They were able to visit the graphite reactor, the High Flux Isotope Reactor, and the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center.
“We got to work with experts, do practical exercises, learn about new technologies, tour incredible facilities… The list goes on and on,” said Begona Aranguren, a Texas A&M nuclear engineering Ph.D. candidate and current president of the Texas A&M Institute of Nuclear Materials Management student chapter.
According to NSSPI Director Dr. Sunil Chirayath, who accompanied the students on the trip, “This is a great opportunity for our students because they can use quantities of nuclear materials at ORNL for hands-on experience with different types of detectors that they do not have access to at the university. The students were also able to interact with the nuclear safeguards practitioners in the lab.”
Nuclear engineering graduate student Esteban Gonzalez echoed Dr. Chirayath, “ORNL has state-of-the-art equipment that facilitates all of the daily operations required for nuclear materials.” He added, “It was a great opportunity to familiarize myself with the indentiFINDER, as I will be using such detectors for safeguards in the near future.”
The Nuclear Facilities Experience program is sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of International Nuclear Safeguards to augment the education of U.S. students and young professionals interested in nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards, and security. NSSPI, in partnership and collaboration with Virginia Commonwealth University and Argonne National Laboratory, plans to organize additional domestic and international Nuclear Facilities Experiences this year.