S.S. Chirayath, C.M. Marianno, K.H. Ragusa, S.A. Dewji, S. Prasad, O.E. Acuna, “The Center For Nuclear Security Science And Policy Initiatives (NSSPI) At Texas A & M University: Fifteen Years Of Excellence In Education, Research, And Workforce Development”, INMM and ESARDA Joint Annual Meeting, Virtual Meeting, August 23 – September 1, 2021.
NSSPI is celebrating its 15th year of operation in 2021. 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. NSSPI has established itself as a center of excellence in nuclear security, safeguards, and nonproliferation (NSSN) in the three aforementioned focus areas. NSSPI’s educational initiatives have created a robust pipeline of career-ready graduates for the U.S. national laboratories, relevant government agencies, and industry. Its anniversary coincides with the 100th graduate (MS/ME/PhD) from the program. NSSPI’s graduate curriculum combines policy and technical aspects of NSSN, and its innovative program gives students a variety of experiences, from hands on laboratory training and internships to international facilities tours, to enhance their understanding and improve their readiness to perform in the workforce. NSSPI faculty members manage laboratories of nuclear security and safeguards, nuclear forensics and radiochemistry, and neutron sensing. NSSPI conducts state-of-the-art 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. Texas A&M is the home of 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. NSSPI has engaged with academic institutions worldwide (Brazil, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Nigeria, South Africa, South Korea, Thailand, and UAE) to support nuclear security curriculum development and regularly conducts in person training for an international audience. To disseminate knowledge in NSSN to professionals and students around the world, NSSPI conducts asynchronous online training through its Nuclear Security and Safeguards Education Portal. NSSPI faculty members serve on domestic and international consultancies as experts including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This paper describes the past and current efforts NSSPI at Texas A&M have 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.