During the Fall 2013 semester, NSSPI hosted two student interns from the Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Tomsk, Russia. The exchange was part of a joint project with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) led by NSSPI Associate Research Engineer Claudio Gariazzo to exchange technical and cultural information between academic personnel through collaborative research and build relationships between TPU and NSSPI/PNNL.
The students selected for the program, Stanislav Edreev and Aleksandr Ovchinnikov, are engineering degree program (EDP) students from TPU. Their 11 week internship in the U.S. included working mainly at the NSSPI offices on the campus of Texas A&M University with a one-week-long visit to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to conduct experiments at the Safeguards Laboratory and to discuss their work with several subject matter experts. Working under the supervision of Dr. Sunil Chirayath of NSSPI and with Texas A&M nuclear engineering Ph.D. candidate, Royal Elmore, Edreev developed nuclear security attributes to be incorporated into the TAMU-developed proliferation resistance assessment tool, PRAETOR, and Ovchinnikov properly modeled a low-level waste counter to quantify uranium-235 using the Russian monte carlo code MCU. Dr. Chirayath modeled the same configuration using the US monte carlo code MCNP to verify the results produced by MCU.
The Tomsk students not only conducted substantive research projects during their time at NSSPI, producing a detailed report and presentation, but they also experienced Texas culture, bonded with several Aggies over the course of their internship, and visited Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon as part of a cultural excursion. Edreev and Ovchinnikov returned to TPU to receive their degrees in nuclear engineering with specialization in material control and accounting. The work they conducted at NSSPI served as their final projects.
According to NSSPI Research Assistant Kate Putman Spence,”Though we were happy to provide such an opportunity to TPU students Edreev and Ovchinnikov, we feel an important facet of their time with us was the experience our Texas A&M nuclear engineering students received in collaborating and engaging like-minded Russian students on a long-term, day-to-day basis discussing pertinent nuclear security and safeguards research.” The opportunity to interact with students from different cultures and backgrounds through exchange programs like this one is one of the crucial elements of the NSSPI educational experience.
Edreev and Ovchinnikov with Dr. Chirayath and ORNL researchers