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International Symposium on Future I&C for Nuclear Power Plants 2017

UTNE Nuclear Engineering Department demonstrates its leadership at ISOFIC 2017 with three faculty engaged in information sharing and collaboration. This year’s International Symposium on Future I&C for Nuclear Power Plants was held on November 26-30, 2017 at Hwabaek International Convention Center (HICO) in Gyeongju, Korea. The ISOFIC 2017 promotes academic and practical information exchanges mainly on the topics of innovative Instrumentation and Control (I&C), and human system interface technologies.

This year Dr. Wes Hines was invited to be the opening plenary speaker and session chair for Methods of Sensing, Processing, and Communication. Dr. Jamie Coble attended as the Symposium Technical Program Committee Co-Chair, session chair for Modernization of I&C and Control Room, and presenter. Dr. Richard Wood a member of the ISOFIC international advisory board, attended as a session chair for Testing and Maintenance and as a presenter as well.

Senior Design Field Trip

One of this years senior design groups participated in a controlled detonation at the UT Institute for Public Service’s Law Enforcement Innovation Center. Several times a year the LEIC hosts the National Forensics Academy to train law enforcement officers on a variety of forensic analysis techniques.

The senior design group accompanied the Institute for Nuclear Security’s drone flight crew that was performing training and providing videography services to the LEIC event as part of establishing the experience required to perform drone based research on their capstone design project.

Introducing young students to nuclear energy

Several student and faculty volunteers traveled to Belle Morris Elementary School to read a book about nuclear power to the first and second-graders and to facilitate learning activities related to nuclear energy and electricity transmission.  The book, entitled Marie’s Electric Adventure, follows a little girl (Marie) and her puppy (Einstein) to a local nuclear power plant in her quest to determine where power comes from  when her night light stops working.  Marie learns that there is nothing wrong with the power plant; a power line became disconnected during a storm, interrupting power to her night light.  The children’s book was written and published by the Duke Chapter of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear.  After reading the story, students act out different parts of the nuclear power plant (e.g., reactor, turbine, and switchyard) to better understand energy production and transmission.  Volunteers will continue to network with nearby schools for future outreach opportunities. If you would like UTNE to visit your school in the Knoxville area, contact Jamie Coble ( or Amanda Lovelace ( 

American Nuclear Society 2017 Winter Meeting Awards

Congratulations to this year’s ANS winter meeting award winners! During this year’s American Nuclear Society 2017 Winter Meeting NE’s Brian Wirth, Lawrence Townsend, and Steven Arndt received awards.

Brian Wirth, the joint UT–Oak Ridge National Laboratory Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering, has been named a Fellow of the American Nuclear Society, the group’s highest honor. Wirth was presented with this award for “seminal contributions to fundamental understanding of radiation damage in nuclear reactor materials providing the scientific basis for improved predictions of reactor performance and development of more damage tolerant materials for advanced fission and fusion power systems.”

Brian Wirth ANS Winter

Wirth is the sixth full professor in the department to be named an ANS Fellow, along with 1 emeritus, 5 research faculty and 4 adjunct and 2 joint faculty who are ANS Fellows for a total of 18 ANS Fellows in the UTNE department.

Lawrence W. Townsend won this year’s  Radiation Science and Technology Award. The Radiation Science and Technology Award was established in 1967, this award recognizes outstanding creative applications of radiation sciences and engineering principles. Townsend is cited for his “leadership in developing and applying methods of radiation interaction and transport in matter for space radiation shielding and risk assessment applications.”

Townsend ANS Winter

Adjunct faculty Steven Arndt also received a Presidential Citation award for his many years of unselfish dedication to the American Nuclear Society, in numerous and diverse leadership roles, making important contributions to Society success and the nuclear energy community, and influencing the development and professional careers of many current and future leaders. The President of the Society, may present one or more presidential citations to individuals who, in their opinion, have demonstrated outstanding effort in some manner for the benefit of the American Nuclear Society and/or the nuclear community.


To see more about the ANS 2017 Winter Meeting Honors and Awards click here

Congrats to the ANS Radiation Shielding Completion Winners!

Congrats to the ANS Radiation Shielding completion winners from Engineers Day 2017.

This year’s ANS group held a Radiation Shielding completion during Engineers Day 2017.  The objective of this competition was to introduce high school students to one field of nuclear engineering: radiation shielding.  This has a very large impact on nuclear security and fits into the category of “Prevent Nuclear Terror”, one of the 14 Grand Challenges. When radioactive materials are transported across our borders or into our country, they release radiation and that allows us to find them. But what happens when they are shielded from our detectors? To understand how to detect shielded materials, we must first understand how they might be shielded.

Engineers Day 2017

Engineers Day 2017

Engineers Day 2017

Below are the Top 10 winners of this year’s shielding completion! Congratulations to all those who participated.

School Final Score Finish
Kingston High School 8.91692 1st
Kingston High School 9.33908 2nd
Kingston High School 9.720401 3rd
Stone Memorial High School 12.3947 4th
Pigeon Forge High School 22.58065 5th
Webb School of Knoxville 53.45131 6th
Pigeon Forge High School 55.25415 7th
Jefferson County High School 74.99785 8th
Webb School of Knoxville 160.5185 9th
Webb School of Knoxville 163.3233 10th

For more info on the completion go here:

Summer 2018 Internship Opportunities

Internship Programs available at ORNL
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Internship Program available at ORISE
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NESLS Internship

Dr. Zinkle Receives Award at the MS&T 2017 Meeting

Zinkle Orton Award

Zinkle Orton AwardSteven J. Zinkle, UT/ORNL Governors Chair Professor for Nuclear Materials, received the American Ceramic Society Edward Orton, Jr. Memorial Lecture Award during the Materials Science & Technology 2017 meeting in Pittsburgh, PA on October 10, 2017. The annual lecture award dates back to 1933 and is named after one of the early leaders of the American Ceramic Society. The Orton lecturer is selected based on their scholarly attainments in ceramics or related field. In connection with the award, Steve delivered a plenary lecture entitled “What’s New with Nuclear Reactors: A Materials Science Perspective”.

Student Spotlight: Tom Wulz

Meet Tom Wulz

Tom Wulz

Dr. Tom Wulz, graduate of UTNE in the summer of 2017, has made great strides in the development of 3D diamond detectors for his PhD research. Tom, advised by Dr. Eric Lukosi, devised a method to create narrow and tall metal electrodes within a single crystal diamond. This method required reactive ion etching, novel deposition of chromium within the channels, and device testing. The successful fabrication and experimental verification of the first-ever 3D diamond detector using metal electrodes has demonstrated the capability of economically fabricating highly radiation-tolerant, room temperature particle tracking detectors for radiation hard environments. An example of this would be the inner particle tracking detectors on CMS for the high luminosity upgrade at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC).

HITES12 2017

High School Seniors Participate in Nuclear Forensics Project


The UTK Department of Nuclear Engineering participated in the Engineering Diversity Program’s HITES12 summer program this July 10-14 by hosting a group of four high school seniors in a week-long nuclear forensics project. The project, led by UTNE research professor John Auxier and assisted by Dr. Matt Cook and professor Lawrence Heilbronn, posed the following problem to the students: One-kiloton devices have been detonated in both Houston and New York city, with one of the devices a thermonuclear weapon and the other a radiological dispersal device. Their task was to use nuclear forensics tools such as gamma ray detectors and mass spectrometers to determine the identity and quantity of isotopes collected from the debris, assess the usefulness of each tool, and finally determine the type of device used in each city.

HITES12 2017     HITES12 2017

The first day had the students in the lab, making up samples that simulate the melt glass produced in each city. The pictures show the students carefully weighing each component of the sample using “recipes” for each city developed by UTNE researchers. As the students found out, measuring out a sample to precisely 0.003 grams can be challenging. The next day the students went to the UTNE teaching labs to work with both NaI and HPGe detectors, noting the advantages and disadvantages each detector system brings to the nuclear forensics table. The third day had the students up in the Radiochemistry Center of Excellence’s mass spectrometry lab to see how melt glass samples are dissolved and eventually analyzed using the lab’s ICP mass spectrometer. The fourth day tied all of the evidence together and had the students analyze each piece to conclude which city was hit with which device, as well as work on their power point presentation they gave to the entire HITES12 program.
HITES12 2017
In addition to the group project, the NE Department hosted the entire HITES12 group of students on Wednesday to give a tour of our facilities and describe the opportunities for students who come to UTK to study nuclear engineering. The HITES12 program, led by Engineering Diversity Programs director Travis Griffin, attracts some of the brightest high school seniors from around the country who are interested in STEM. We hope to see some of these students become UTNE Volunteers starting in the fall of 2019.

Learn more about HITES12 here

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