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First Graduates of Nuclear Security Education Program Announced

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Pennsylvania State University and Texas A&M University have announced the first graduates of their new nuclear security program. This graduate-level program, which began in 2011, aims to develop and educate the next generation of personnel with careers in the nuclear and radiological security fields with both domestic and international focus.

NNSA, through its Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI), collaborated with these three universities to design and develop curricula, course material and laboratory activities. The program provides a comprehensive education in nuclear security, primarily for nuclear engineering graduate students, and allows students to earn a nuclear security specialization for a Master of Science degree in a nuclear engineering program. Students can also receive a stand-alone graduate certificate in nuclear security.

“Developing the next generation of nuclear security experts is fundamental to the long-term security of our nation,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington. “Investing in the scientific and technical underpinnings of nuclear security helps to accomplish President Obama’s vision of a safer world. These well-respected universities, and especially today’s graduates, are to be commended for their efforts to enhance global peace and security.”

“Penn State is pleased to participate with our partner universities in developing a nuclear security program that trains professionals at the graduate level who can advance nuclear security in the United States and beyond,” said The Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering David N. Wormley.

“The Department of Nuclear Engineering is proud to be part of GTRI’s education initiative in providing unique classroom and laboratory opportunities for the next generation of nuclear security professionals,” said Dr. Yassin Hassan, department head and Sallie & Don Davis ’61 Professor of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University.

“Nuclear security research projects in MIT’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Department are selected for their relevance to current policy problems, their multidisciplinary context, and their need for advanced levels of technical understanding,” said Professor Richard Lester, head of the MIT Nuclear Science and Engineering Department. “The new GTRI-sponsored curriculum is helping to prepare our students to carry out this research and to pursue careers in the vitally important fields of nuclear and radiological security.”

A set of five courses was developed for the nuclear security education program, with each school organizing one or two of the following: Threat Analysis and Assessment; Detector and Source Technologies; Applications of Detectors/Sensors/Sources for Radiation Detection and Measurements; Global Nuclear Security Policies; and Design and Analysis of Security Systems for Nuclear and Radiological Facilities.

GTRI and its university partners began cooperation to develop the curriculum and course material for this program in 2010, entering into a formal agreement to share all course material, as well as the workload and cost associated with development and implementation. The universities will continue to offer the courses at their own expense and to share the curriculum with other interested universities.

GTRI’s mission is to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material located at civilian sites worldwide. GTRI achieves its mission by converting research reactors and isotope production facilities from the use of highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium; removing excess nuclear and radiological materials; and protecting high priority nuclear and radiological materials from theft. Together these efforts provide a comprehensive approach to preventing terrorists’ access to nuclear and radiological materials.

A fact sheet on NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative is available online here.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.