The nuclear engineering program in Virginia Tech’s Department of Mechanical Engineering has been awarded two grants totaling $850,000 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Integrated University Program for faculty development and graduate student fellowships. The program was authorized by Congress in 2009 to enhance the nuclear workforce. Since nuclear engineering was re-established at Virginia Tech in 2007, the program has been successful in obtaining funding totaling approximately $2.8 million. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has awarded a three-year grant of $450,000 to support faculty development for its nuclear engineering program. The commission’s program specifically targets tenure-track faculty in the first six years of their careers and includes support for developing proposals for research, initiating or continuing research projects, and other areas.
A fellowship grant of $400,000 over four years was awarded in support of Virginia Tech’s Multi-Campus Nuclear Engineering Fellowship Program that will provide graduate fellowships to students enrolled in the nuclear engineering program at both Blacksburg and the greater Washington, D.C., metropolitan area campuses. According to primary investigator Haghighat, the program will include midshipmen enrolled in the Accelerated Masters of Engineering in Nuclear Engineering program for the U.S. Naval Academy.
The fellowship will allow the nuclear program to recruit and educate highly qualified nuclear engineers and scientists who will contribute to the U.S. nuclear educational institutions, private organizations, and government agencies and laboratories. Since 2009, 18 graduate students have benefited from the fellowship program with 14 students having completed master’s and doctoral degrees in nuclear engineering and who are successfully employed in different sectors including U.S. national labs, universities, nuclear vendors, and the U.S. Naval Academy.