By Laura Scheele
As part of a Colorado speaking tour, American Nuclear Society President Eric Loewen visited the ANS student section at the Colorado School of Mines (CSM) on Wednesday, August 24. More than 30 students and two faculty members attended his talk, and later that evening 17 students and two faculty members were among the attendees at the Colorado ANS local section meeting.
On August 26, Loewen took part in tours at the facilities of two ANS organizational members—NFT (formerly Nuclear Filter Technology) and SA Technologies. Loewen presented ANS organizational membership certificates to both of the companies.
“Eric’s talk was well received, and the students found him to be a very engaging presenter. He kept them involved and made them think—something we faculty sometimes struggle with,” commented Jeffrey King, CSM-ANS faculty advisor. “It’s important that the students feel engaged in ANS. Ours is a graduate program, so the students are taking their first steps into the professional world, of which ANS is a critical piece. Having the students see the larger picture, and understand how they can play a role, is very important.”
“I was very pleased with Dr. Loewen’s visit,” said Sarah Morgan, CSM-ANS president. “His enthusiasm for ANS and all things nuclear was very apparent. He most certainly has a vision for the nuclear industry of the future and is doing all he can to see that vision come true. I now have a greater understanding of the executive side of a professional society. Before Dr. Loewen’s visit, I was somewhat unclear on the function of the ANS president. However, it seems to me that Eric functions as the biggest proponent of ANS.”
Loewen’s presentation to CSM-ANS was titled Heavy-Metal Nuclear Power: Could Reactors Burn Radioactive Waste to Produce Electric Power and Hydrogen? His Colorado-ANS local section presentation was titled Nuclear Possibilities for our Grandchildren. Both presentations are available on his ANS Officer webpage.
Following Loewen’s visit, the ANS Nuclear Cafe caught up with King and Morgan to learn more about the CSM nuclear engineering program and the ANS student section.
CSM-ANS chartered in 2010
The CSM student section was chartered in 2010, which closely followed King’s arrival at CSM. King formerly served as faculty advisor to the ANS student section at the Missouri University of Science & Technology. “It was a logical extension to become the advisor at CSM, and to help them build a new and successful student section,” explained King. “Having a well-functioning ANS student section is an important mark of distinction for a new nuclear program. It is one of many signs that I look at in concluding that the CSM nuclear program is poised for success and here to stay.”
“In addition to providing important external visibility for the new program, a student section also provides an important educational service,” King continued. “At CSM, the student section is a social focal point for the students in the program, and it helps to integrate new students into the program. The students in ANS learn from and help each other, and their involvement in the student chapter naturally leads to involvement in the national society. This helps them to grow as professionals and scholars.”
The sole nuclear engineering program in Colorado
Morgan is majoring in nuclear engineering and will graduate with a master’s degree in May 2012. She has no certain plans after graduation, but hopes to work for an engineering firm in Colorado. “ANS is especially important for students at Mines because it provides so many networking opportunities,” said Morgan. “The Mines nuclear program is pretty new, so many employers don’t know about us and don’t send recruiter/representatives to our career fairs. Through ANS conferences and activities with the Colorado ANS local section, our students have been able to network with both the local and national nuclear communities.”
“One unique thing about Mines is that we are the only nuclear engineering program in the state,” Morgan added. “Because we live in a state with no power reactors and very little nuclear industry (with the exception of some uranium mining), we are very interested in public outreach and education.”
Strong uranium resource recovery focus
“The Colorado School of Mines is focused on understanding and managing the entire nuclear fuel cycle,” explained King. “While we are building on the core nuclear engineering components of our program, we also have a strong and growing uranium resource recovery focus, which is a natural consequence of being located in one of the major uranium production states. Uranium mining and milling is one unique topic that always comes up when we start talking about nuclear engineering at Mines.”
On the horizon for CSM-ANS
CSM-ANS has previously participated in science fair judging and plans to do so again over the upcoming school year. “We are also planning on doing the Celebration of Mines event, where student organizations have a chance to interact with students, talk about what they do, and recruit new members,” said Morgan. “We don’t have a large outreach event planned for this semester, but we will be sending students to the ANS Student Conference in the spring.”
Laura Scheele is the Communications & Policy Manager for the American Nuclear Society’s Communications & Outreach Department.