Faculty and staff from the TEES Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) at Texas A&M University organized the second Nuclear Facilities Experience (NFE) for American students and young professionals through a grant from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Next Generation Safeguards Initiative. This experience, which took place in the United Kingdom from September 13 through 18, included students from five U.S. universities (Texas A&M, the University of Michigan, the University of New Mexico, the University of Tennessee, and Penn State University), faculty from Texas A&M and the University of Utah, and young professionals from three national laboratories (Argonne, Savannah River, and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories).
“The Nuclear Facilities Experience (NFE) is an opportunity NSSPI coordinates for nuclear engineering graduate students specializing in nonproliferation for engaging with nuclear fuel cycle facility operators and safeguards practitioners. More importantly, 2015 was the first year NSSPI expanded this to other participants beyond Texas A&M University: students and faculty from the University of Michigan, the University of Tennessee, the University of New Mexico, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Utah also participated. Furthermore, six early career participants were included from three national laboratories: Savannah River National Lab, Pacific Northwest National Lab, and Argonne National Lab. Overall, the experience was a fruitful one where the students not only witnessed operations at fuel cycle facilities (such as enrichment and reprocessing facilities) but also took the opportunity to grow their knowledge base while establishing their international networks of subject matter experts. This activity would not have been possible without the full support of the NNSA’s Next Generation Safeguards Initiative Program Office. “
– Claudio Gariazzo, NSSPI Associate Research Engineer and NFE coordinator
The five-day tour of the UK included visits to the Urenco uranium enrichment plant in Capenhurst, the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) at Sellafield, the world’s first commercial nuclear power plant at Calder Hall (consisting of 4 Magnox reactors), and the Heysham Nuclear Power Plant (consisting of 4 advanced gas-cooled reactors).
The NFE also included a stop at King’s College London, where participants interacted with faculty and students from the Centre for Science and Security Studies in the Department of War Studies at King’s College. Both host faculty and visitors presented lectures on nuclear security topics.
Over the course of the NFE, the participants traveled over 900 miles by rail and had the opportunity to see some of the best examples of operational nuclear science, security, and safeguards the world has to offer. NSSPI faculty member Dr. Craig Marianno, who accompanied the students on the trip, remarked, “Everyone involved found the experience enlightening and beneficial.”
This year’s international NFE is the latest in a series of similar experiences organized by NSSPI since 2006. Past NFEs took students and faculty to facilities in France, the UK, and Japan.