From November 2014 through January 2015, NSSPI hosted a student intern from Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Russia. This marks the fifth consecutive year that NSSPI has hosted student interns from TPU as part of a research engagement program sponsored by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Material Protection, Control and Accounting. The purpose of these joint research projects between TPU students who are working toward engineering degrees in material protection, control, and accounting and NSSPI faculty, staff, and students is to expose the students to a different culture, augment their education with research at an American university, and increase their awareness of different topics related to nuclear security.
The student who completed the program this year is Dmitry Dolmatov, an engineering degree program (EDP) student from TPU. His 8-week long internship at NSSPI was focused on research investigating the correlations between fission products and special nuclear materials for various used nuclear fuel under NSSPI faculty member Dr. Sunil Chirayath. The research projects completed by the interns are a vital component of their engineering degree studies at TPU and become their final projects, used as a criterion for completing the five-and-a-half-year degree program at their home institution. In total, NSSPI and TPU have collaborated on nine different research projects in various areas related to nuclear material protection, control, and accounting through the internship program.
Dolmatov also visited the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) safeguards laboratory as part of his internship. All of the student interns participating in the program have spent 1-2 weeks at a time at Oak Ridge National Laboratory engaging material protection, control, and accounting subject matter experts.
Under a separate grant from the US Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, Texas A&M University signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with TPU in August 2012. The primary purpose of the MOU was to facilitate both universities in joint research and educational activities specifically in the areas of nuclear nonproliferation, safety, and security. In addition to the annual internships, Texas A&M and TPU students have interacted through a number of additional activities, including: the NSSPI-led Japan Nuclear Facilities Experience, where TPU students joined other students from Texas A&M, Vietnam, and the Tokyo Institute of Technology to visit nuclear facilities in Japan in 2012; NSSPI faculty and student participation in the 6th and 7th International Nonproliferation Summer Schools in Tomsk; and an arms verification simulation exercise in Oslo, Norway as part of the UK-Norway Initiative, where students from Texas A&M and TPU formed a joint US-Russian weapons inspection team for the simulated exercise in 2013.