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Department Hosts Alcoa High School Students

Maik Lang is talking to several surrounding Alcoa High School students.

Maik Lang, center, talks about nuclear engineering to several Alcoa High School students.

The department welcomed around 30 students from Alcoa High School in early May as a way to introduce them to what nuclear engineering has to offer.

During their visit, the students heard from professors, asked questions to a panel of current students, and toured some of the labs where nuclear research takes place.

It was part of the high school’s effort to engage students in science and physics and demonstrate the practical use of that knowledge.

“If students can get involved in research, get hands-on experience, that’s 10 times more effective than any lecture or reading,” said Jonathan Grissom, a science teacher at Alcoa. “This is a good chance to open their minds to careers and fields they might not know about otherwise.”

One tour stop included a visit with Assistant Professor and Pietro F. Pasqua Fellow Maik Lang in his lab in the Science and Engineering Research Facility.

Lang and his research assistants explained how the work they do helps develop materials for use in the harsh environment inside nuclear reactors.

The high school students also learned various ways that UT faculty and students test such materials and how those tests are used to impact the real world.

We need to be able to see how materials perform in extreme environments, and the combination of engineering, physics, and science allows us to do that.”

—Maik Lang

He also explained the opportunities students coming to UT have to collaborate with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the key relationship UT and ORNL share.

Students also heard about UT’s freshman engineering programs student organizations, experiences current students have had and the paths they have taken, and some of the college’s initiatives that are aimed at easing the transition to college life.