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Millennials Reaching Millennials to Pursue Nuclear Engineering

Sarah Davis and Katelyn Bennett on stage at Millennial Caucus 2019.Nuclear engineering graduate student Sarah Davis and graduate research assistant in energy science and engineering Katelyn Bennett together served as the co-hosts for the Millennial Nuclear Caucus at Y-12’s New Hope Center, hosted by the Department of Energy. The event takes place in various cities around the country to encourage Millennials to engage in nuclear engineering.

The local event included a mixer between Millennials and seasoned professionals representing different nuclear companies in the Knoxville area. The main feature was a three-part panel discussion with industry professionals talking about advanced nuclear reactor economics and logistics, new nuclear technology, and impactful research being conducted at ORNL.

I wanted to participate in the millennial nuclear caucus because it was a great opportunity to not only meet with peers but also professionals in the various sectors of nuclear science to discuss the challenges they face, how they are being addressed, and the advancements that are being made,”

—Katelyn Bennett

The first panel focused on Small Modular Reactors and the economics and licensing behind them. They talked about the future of advanced nuclear reactors and realistic values and times we should be expecting them to be operating. The second panel focused on enabling new nuclear technologies. Department Head Wes Hines shared details about the Fast Neutron Source that will be built in UT’s new Engineering Complex, opening in 2021. They also discussed that we are in a “nuclear renaissance.” The third panel focused on exciting Oak Ridge projects in the nuclear field.

Davis and Bennett were able to share stories of how they got into the nuclear field and encouraged others to get involved in nuclear organizations and activities around Knoxville.

“The world of nuclear engineering is advancing every day because of new technologies and new people (Millennials) in the work force,” said Davis.