Missouri S&T hosts symposium on future of nuclear power


As the United States moves toward greater use of renewable energy, nuclear industry experts will discuss the role of nuclear power in America’s future during a virtual symposium hosted by Missouri University of Science and Technology. The symposium will be held from 8 a.m. to noon Friday, April 30.

“We’re welcoming some of the top minds in the industry to help us reimagine the future of nuclear energy,” says Dr. Richard Wlezien, vice provost and dean of S&T’s College of Engineering and Computing. “The symposium is a perfect fit for S&T, the home of the first on-campus nuclear reactor in Missouri, as we celebrate our new department of nuclear engineering and radiation science.”

Nuclear power is not often included in discussions about alternative energy sources but accounted for more than half of the nation’s carbon-free electricity in 2020 and a fifth of overall power generated in the United States in the past 20 years, Wlezien says.

The U.S. Department of Energy recently recognized Missouri S&T’s nuclear engineering program with a $168,500 award for one scholarship and one fellowship. The undergraduate scholarship provides $7,500 to help cover education costs for the upcoming years, while the three-year graduate fellowship provides $52,000 each year to help pay for graduate studies and research. It also includes $5,000 to fund an internship at a DOE national laboratory or other approved research facility to strengthen the ties between students and DOE’s energy research programs.

“Our students will create tomorrow’s cutting-edge solutions in nuclear energy, and we are grateful for this support from DOE,” says Dr. Ayodeji Alajo, associate professor and interim chair of nuclear engineering and radiation science at Missouri S&T. “The DOE award and the symposium are high points in the celebration of our students and our new department.”

The symposium will feature opening remarks from Missouri S&T Chancellor Mo Dehghani and Alajo. Two panel discussions – “Why Nuclear?” and “Emerging Technologies: Opportunities and Risks” – are scheduled for 9 a.m. and 10 a.m., respectively. The panel experts bring years of varied experience to the discussion:

Tom Voss, retired president and CEO, Ameren Corp.

Robin Stubenhofer, vice president of engineering, Honeywell, Kansas City National Security Campus

Ben Masters, research physicist, Engineer Research and Development Center, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

John Gahl, professor of electrical engineering and computer science; adjunct professor of biomedical, biological and chemical engineering, University of Missouri-Columbia

John Wagner, director, Idaho National Laboratory

John Warmack, founder, Warmack and Co.

Jim Kennedy, president, ThREE Consulting

John Kutsch, executive director, Thorium Energy Alliance

The virtual symposium is open to anyone who is interested in learning more about the future of nuclear applications in industry, energy, defense, healthcare and agriculture. Registration is required for all attendees.