K.H. Ragusa, S.S. Chirayath, C.M. Marianno, F. Naqvi, S. Hecker, D. Mulyana, “Roadmap for a Sustainable Professional Pipeline: The Nuclear Security Education Program at the Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives (NSSPI) at Texas A&M University”, INMM/ESARDA Joint Annual Meeting, 22-26 May 2023, Vienna, Austria.
NSSPI is the first U.S. academic institution focused on technical graduate education, research, and workforce development related to the safeguarding of nuclear materials and the reduction of nuclear threats. Since its inception in 2006, NSSPI has established itself as a center of excellence in nuclear security, safeguards, and nonproliferation (NSSN) and its educational initiatives have created a robust pipeline of career-ready graduates for U.S. national laboratories, relevant government agencies, and industry. NSSPI’s graduate curriculum combines policy and technical aspects of NSSN, and its innovative program gives students a variety of experiences, from hands on national laboratory training and internships to international facilities study tours, to enhance their understanding and improve their readiness to perform in the workforce. NSSPI faculty engage students in research, principally in the areas of detector system design and deployment, nuclear forensics and attribution, nuclear security and proliferation risk analysis, nuclear proliferation detection, and nuclear safeguards analysis. NSSPI has also become one of only two organizations to host Stanton fellows engaging in policy-informed technical nuclear security research. Texas A&M is home to the first student chapter of INMM. As a pioneer organization in NSSN education, NSSPI’s program has become a model to similar programs around the U.S. and the world. As such, NSSPI has engaged with academic institutions worldwide to support nuclear security curriculum development and regularly conducts in person training for an international audience, supported by the US Department of State, Department of Education, and Department of Energy. NSSPI conducts asynchronous online training through its Nuclear Security and Safeguards Education Portal and offers two professional certificates to professionals and students around the world. NSSPI faculty support the online graduate nuclear security certificate as well as the online Master of Engineering degree. NSSPI faculty serve on domestic and international consultancies as experts including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This paper describes the past and current efforts NSSPI has undertaken in strengthening human resource capacity in NSSN both domestically and internationally and the lessons learned from these efforts. These NSSPI efforts were supported by numerous U.S. federal agencies and national laboratories, as well as the IAEA.