Virginia Tech, Naval Academy going nuclear

Virginia Tech partners with U.S. Naval Academy to further research and education in nuclear science and engineering

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Marshall Millett, Alireza Haghighat, Joe Leidig, and Nathan Roskoff wiill collaborate on research as a result of a newly-formed partnership between Virginia Tech and the U.S. Naval Academy.

Virginia Tech’s Nuclear Science and Engineering Lab in Arlington, Virginia, and the U.S. Naval Academy’s newest academic program, nuclear engineering, have joined in a research and educational partnership.

The agreement will launch research collaboration opportunities engaging faculty, students, and resources from both partners; and enable other activities such as guest lectures, invited seminars, specialized workshops, training lectures, and short courses. In addition, every summer a number of midshipmen will intern at the Virginia Tech lab.

The partnership, which leverages the close proximity between the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, and the Virginia Tech National Capital Region campus, is led by retired Navy Adm. Joe Leidig, the Corbin A. McNeill Endowed Chair in Engineering at the Naval Academy, and Alireza Haghighat, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Lab.

“Collaboration is highly beneficial and complementary for both of our programs,” said Haghighat. “The Naval Academy engages outstanding students and houses excellent nuclear facilities within a 45-minute drive from the  Nuclear Science and Engineering Lab at the Virginia Tech Research Center ─ Arlington. Our lab offers internationally known research and educational capabilities in radiation transport, reactor physics methods, and computer codes with application to nuclear power, nuclear security, and radiation diagnosis and medicine.”

The partnership is also a way for Virginia Tech to contribute to the training of future nuclear navy officers and leaders in nuclear power and Nuclear Security Enterprise, Haghighat said.

The first joint project, already underway, is research aimed at benchmarking the Real-time Analysis for spent fuel Pool and cask In-situ Detection (RAPID) tool developed at the Nuclear Science and Engineering Lab. For this benchmarking the Naval Academy’s subcritical facility will be used.

Under Haghighat’s supervision, Nathan Roskoff, a Ph.D. student in nuclear engineering from Syracuse, New York, and member of the Nuclear Science and Engineering Lab, will use RAPID to simulate the subcritical facility and perform experiments. From the Naval Academy, Marshall Millett, an associate professor; Kelly Delikat, technical support supervisor; and one midshipman will participate in this project.

Haghighat said that Joyce Shade, professor and associate director of Research and Scholarship for Technology Transfer at the Naval Academy, and Sanjay Raman, associate vice president, National Capital Region, and Frank Fitzgerald, director, Contracts Team, Office of Sponsored Programs at Virginia Tech were instrumental in developing this partnership and will continue to play a role as it advances.


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