Nuclear Power: A Look at the Future

As nuclear power returns to the national energy agenda, the need for engineers and scientists in all sectors of the field becomes ever more pressing. This year’s American Nuclear Society (ANS) national student conference, to be held March 30-April 1 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, will offer a glimpse at the future leaders in academia, government, and industry, while featuring presentations from experts currently working in these arenas.

The theme of the conference is “Nuclear Power: A Look at the Future.” More than 300 of the top nuclear engineering students from across the country will gather to present their research and participate in panels about nuclear energy, non-proliferation, and international safeguards. The event, which is organized and run by Rensselaer engineering students, also features talks from a number of prominent professionals in these fields, including:

  • Admiral Frank “Skip” Bowman, President and CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute
  • Gregory Jaczko, Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Moustafa Bahran, Science and Technology Advisor to the President of Yemen; Chairman, Yemen National Atomic Energy Commission
  • Joseph Indusi, Senior Scientist and Chair, Nonproliferation and National Security Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory
  • Myron Kratzer, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear Affairs

Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson, who is former Chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, has suggested that a number of variables will influence the future of nuclear power, including economics, waste disposal, proliferation, and innovation in nuclear technology. But, she notes, a particularly important variable is the availability of an adequate number of engineers to design, build, and operate nuclear plants, and to deal with the weighty public policy issues surrounding the field.

“These are some of the students who will emerge as the next generation of leaders in the field,” says Don Steiner, director of Rensselaer’s nuclear engineering program. “The Department of Energy has been encouraging utilities to seriously consider new nuclear power plants, and there are going to be large numbers of retiring nuclear engineers in the coming years. The students are plugged into these issues, and that makes them very excited about the future of nuclear engineering.”

Students from some of the top engineering programs in the country will be presenting their research in a variety of areas, from reactor safety to waste management to nuclear applications in biology and medicine.

The conference also will feature several panels and workshops led by international experts, including a panel on the future of the nuclear power industry, and a workshop geared toward helping burgeoning nuclear scientists and engineers use their technical expertise to develop strategies for preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

For more information, including a schedule of events, visit the conference Web site:

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