The AggiE-Challenge team led by NSSPI faculty member Dr. Sunil Chirayath placed first in the AggiE-Challenge Showcase student poster presentation competition held on Monday, December 3rd. The showcase marked the end of the first semester of work for the AggiE-Challenge teams. The AggiE-Challenge program is sponsored by the Dwight Look College of Engineering at TAMU and aims at actively engaging undergraduate students with multidisciplinary team projects related to the major engineering challenges facing our society as articulated by publications like the National Academy of Engineering’s list of “Grand Challenges.” The challenge being addressed by this team’s project is the “prevention of nuclear terrorism,” more specifically, “effectively interdicting highly-enriched uranium (HEU) smuggling.”
Only a few tens of kilograms (kg) of HEU are required to build a nuclear bomb, but more than one million kg of HEU exists in the world. Since HEU could be stolen and smuggled into the U.S. for acts of nuclear terrorism, securing the U.S. borders against attempts to transport HEU is a national priority. Unfortunately, current nuclear material detection technology is inadequate for several important HEU smuggling scenarios. One of the most difficult challenges is the interdiction of shielded HEU being smuggled into the U.S. in cargo or a vehicle.
The work the team is doing builds on results from the SHIELD project, a multi-year, multi-disciplinary project funded by the US Department of Homeland Security to improve the global nuclear detection architecture. In particular, the group is testing and validating the procedures and algorithms previously developed by the SHIELD researchers.
The team consists of 13 undergraduate students and nuclear engineering graduate student Evans Kitcher, who serves as the graduate coordinator for the project. Of the 13 undergraduate students, 8 are nuclear engineering students and 5 are students in the Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISEN) department. Faculty team members include Dr. William Charlton, Dr. David Boyle, and Dr. Alexander Solodov, all of NSSPI, along with Dr. Marvin Adams from the Nuclear Engineering Department and Dr. Gary Gaukler of the Mays Business School (formerly of ISEN).
For more information on the AggiE-Challenge Program, visit their website.