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Senior Design Team Takes Winning Design to National Competition

Molly Underwood, Ivan Maldonado, Madeleine Burrell, Andrew Naylor, Logan Clowers pose with finalist certificate.

(L-R) Molly Underwood, Ivan Maldonado, Madeleine Burrell, Andrew Naylor, and Logan Clowers.

The winning 2019 nuclear engineering senior design team took their design to a national competition sponsored by the Education, Training and Workforce Development Division (ETWDD) of the American Nuclear Society (ANS). The team came away as one of two finalists in the undergraduate category and was invited to present their work at the 2019 ANS Winter Meeting and Technology Expo.

Four of the students traveled to the meeting:

  • Molly Underwood (sponsored by her employer, Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin)
  • Madeleine Burrell and Andrew Naylor (sponsored by their employer, Southern Nuclear Corporation, headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama)
  • Logan Clowers (current graduate student at the University of Michigan, sponsored by the department and ETWDD).

The other two members of the team—Kalie Knecht (graduate student at UC Berkeley) and Michael Hines (employed by the Y12 Nuclear Security Complex)— could not travel due to work commitments.

Their research, titled “Equilibrium Core Design of a NuScale Designed Small Modular Reactor Using CASL’s Virtual Environment for Reactor Applications (VERA),” is concerned with the optimization of fuel and burnable absorber loadings and placement for a small modular reactor (SMR).

The team received kudos from a number of attendees, including José Reyes, PhD, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder of NuScale Power. His company’s reactor is the same one the UT team had selected to study and design based on the publicly available Final Safety Analysis Report information available through the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s documentation.