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A Senior Design Showcase team presents their research with an attendee.

Nuclear Teams Honored for Senior Design Projects

The Department of Nuclear Engineering had an overall solid showing at the recently held 2023 Senior Design Showcase that was held in the Zeanah Engineering Complex.

Top honors went to the “Subcritical Testing Assembly” team, as well as the additional honor of being judged as having the best computational work.

The team, Daniel Racz, Sophie Hitson, Gabe Lentchner, Nicholas Branam, and Sinan Zhang, worked with advisors Patrick Huston and James Kuropatwinski of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which sponsored the project.

Bernadette Brezinski and Hunter Salmon demonstrate their Senior Design Showcase project.

L-R: Hunter Salmon and Bernadette Brezinski demonstrate their teams capstone project.

Bernadette Brezinski took home the individual honor for team leader on the project “Nuclear Safety Squad.”

That team, which also included Hunter Salmon, Alex Choi, Liam Walker, and Teja Vallabhaneni, was challenged with developing a shielding device that needed to be portable, secure, and easy to access for laboratory usage, all while limiting radiation exposure to a plutonium beryllium source.

“Overall, the senior design experience was great. My entire group had different expertise in different areas, making the project much easier with regard to work delegation,” said Brezinski.

“Personally, I was able to learn AutoCAD and work with it to make a blender animation that brought our design to life. Then we were able to build and test the device, which was successful.”

Brezinski said she felt “honored” by her selection, and that it was a reflection of efforts made by the entire team. She said she hoped to further develop communication and leadership skills as part of future successes.

John D. Tickle Professor Lawrence Heilbronn served as team mentor, while the department sponsored the project.

The experimental work award went to Edward Fejedelem, Carson Sain, Chilson Whittum, and Katy Worrell, who composed the “Oak Ridge Subcritical Assembly” team, which was sponsored by ORNL and mentored by ORNL’s Alex Lang and Mathieu Dupont.

For their project, they designed experiments for future training purposes on nuclear energy at the subcritical level, coming up with three different designs.

“I think our project was a lot of fun to work on because criticality safety is something that all four members of the team are interested in,” said Worrell. “We also benefited a lot from having really great mentors, Alex Lang and Mathieu Dupont from ORNL, who joined us in meetings frequently and were always willing to answer our questions and guide us through different methods. I think everyone was able to learn a lot and develop skills that we’ll get to use soon in our careers.

“Since the Oak Ridge Subcritical Assembly is something that ORNL does plan on implementing, it was nice to hear from the judges that they see real-life possibilities in our experimental designs. I think when the assembly does get built in the coming years, it will be really cool for us to be able to say we worked on its development.”

Accolades for having the best teamwork went to the “Activation of Water with Neutrons” team of Cole Fritsch, Harrison Huegen, Dalton Lonker, Mason Phillips, and Stephen Pucci.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory served as their sponsor, while ORNL’s Michael Loughlin helped mentor them.

Their task was to design an experiment to determine when water is activated as part of the cooling process in fusion, specifically the tokamak in use with ITER, which would allow for better shielding designs.