UNM Nuclear Engineering Program Awarded Prestigious DOE Grants to Support Students and Improve Infrastructure

UNM Nuclear Engineering

8/24/2012 – UNM’s Nuclear Engineering program was awarded $210,000 in scholarships, fellowships and infrastructure support from the Department of Energy Nuclear Energy University Programs (NEUP).

Nuclear Engineering undergraduate students Colin Josey and Mario Ortega won the $5,000 scholarships and incoming graduate student Aaron Olson was awarded the $150,000 three-year Graduate Fellowship. Olson’s graduate fellowship also includes $5,000 towards a summer internship at Sandia National Laboratories to support student involvement in the DOE’s applied research programs.

“We feel honored to receive these NEUP awards, especially since our program is one of the smaller nuclear engineering programs,” says Anil K. Prinja, professor of nuclear engineering. “The NEUP awards point to the quality of our academic programs. We’ve placed students at top notch grad programs such as UC Berkeley, MIT, University of Michigan, and Texas A&M, and our students are also routinely offered internships at the national labs,” adds Prinja.

UNM’s 5kW nuclear reactor, one of the nation’s lowest power campus research reactors, has highly restricted access and is used solely as a teaching tool for undergraduate students. The $50,000 infrastructure award will allow UNM NE to complete a system update including a new computer data acquisition card, associated electronics, and a physical test stand. “This award will allow us to provide hands-on experiments for a larger number of students,” says Bob Busch, the reactor supervisor and lecturer in the Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Department. “Many other NE programs don’t have reactors and students aren’t able to get those valuable first-hand experiences with a reactor,” he notes.

UNM is the only university in New Mexico, and one of the few in the US, to offer an ABET-accredited Bachelor of Science degree in Nuclear Engineering. The Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Department also offers Master’s and PhD degrees in NE. Research strengths include nuclear reactor thermal hydraulics and reactor safety, radiation transport theory and computations, and radiation detection systems.