ISU's Nuclear-Engineering Renaissance
Idaho State University's commitment to engineering education in Idaho Falls will yield tangible benefits for students, the Idaho National Laboratory and the city itself, writes Richard T. Jacobsen, Ph.D.
The U.S. Department of Energy's 10-year contract with Battelle Energy Alliance for the management and operation of the Idaho National Laboratory required BEA to establish the Center for Advanced Energy Studies. CAES, as the center is called, is located in a new, highly energy-efficient building at University Place in Idaho Falls.
The objective, in part, was to engage national universities and Idaho's universities in INL research. Included is Idaho State University, the largest higher-education provider in Idaho Falls. The motivation was to support the lab's new mission — nuclear energy — and increase the number of Ph.D.s working in the lab's energy-research activities.
By engaging these universities, CAES can be a cornerstone in the future of the INL, and in the future of higher education in Idaho Falls.
When CAES was conceived, it was believed that students would graduate with educations that are relevant to the INL. Also, the nuclear-power industry now believes that new commercial plants are inevitable in the United States. There is renewed interest in alternative energy systems as well.
Thus, Idaho State University launched the renaissance of its nuclear science and engineering programs, a pivotal development for Idaho Falls. ISU has established a new B.S. degree program in those fields in Idaho Falls and Pocatello. That builds upon the university's longstanding M.S. and Ph.D. programs in the same fields, also available at both locations. The B.S. in computer science also is offered.
Five Idaho State University faculty members live in Idaho Falls, supporting programs in nuclear engineering and related fields. Several new ISU research faculty in Idaho Falls work in areas that support nuclear research at INL. In the study of the nuclear fuel cycle, ISU's director of the Institute of Nuclear Science and Engineering (INSE) in Idaho Falls, Michael Lineberry, Ph.D., ranks among the Top Ten. Pocatello's George Imel, Ph.D., who teaches at University Place, is chair of the ISU Department of Nuclear Engineering and associate director of CAES. He was previously with Argonne National Laboratory at the Cadarache Center in France, where he worked in one of the most successful nuclear-research laboratories in the world.
The business of the INL is energy research; the business of ISU is education. The intersection is graduate research, performed jointly by INL staff and ISU students and directed by research-active faculty. At the College of Engineering, we believe that the strategic direction at University Place must include cooperation — not competition — among Idaho's universities and Idaho National Laboratory.
Richard Jacobsen, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Engineering