October 16, 2008
Dear Friend of Idaho State University:
As I accompanied Idaho Gov. C. L. "Butch" Otter and others on a recent tour of the new Center for Advanced Energy Studies building in Idaho Falls, we encountered an ISU student who seems destined for a role in the revival of nuclear energy.
Bryon Curnutt, a 25-year-old Bonneville County native, says he's long been fascinated by the field of nuclear energy. So after four years in the United States Marine Corps, the decorated Iraq veteran enrolled in Idaho State University's rigorous undergraduate nuclear engineering program.
He's a junior now, studying full time at ISU–Idaho Falls. At the same time, an internship with CAES is providing him with valuable experience in the workaday world of a research institution. He’s fortunate indeed to be involved in this high-level education and training facility just a few miles from where he grew up.
In a publicly accessible building that is both environmentally friendly and exceptionally energy efficient, CAES brings together the expertise of Idaho National Laboratory and Idaho’s three public universities, and the entrepreneurship of private industry. In addition to the science of energy, CAES focuses on energy affordability, environmental safety, technology and public policy.
The hindrances to open communication and interaction that are inherent in a national laboratory setting don't exist in this remarkable building, which Idaho State University manages. Researchers and students from around the nation and the world can collaborate freely on developing the full spectrum of energy options, including fossil fuels, renewable resources and nuclear energy.
Students—particularly graduate students—from a range of disciplines will study in the midst of all this intellectual energy, creativity and scholarship. With $1.6 million in state funding this year, ISU has three full professors, three assistant professors and one lecturer in nuclear science and engineering at CAES. However, research here will often be directed by doctoral students and supervised by faculty, as it typically is in a university setting.
In this one place, students will have access to INL resources that are unavailable at most universities, to the research programs of major national and international universities and companies, and to the academic programs at Idaho State University–Idaho Falls.
Idaho National Laboratory Director John Grossenbacher, University of Idaho interim President Steven Daley-Laursen, Ph.D., and ISU Vice President for Research Pamela Crowell, Ph.D., also participated in the tour. At its conclusion, Gov. Otter described the building, paid for primarily with private-sector and federal funds, as "a sound investment" for Idaho and the nation.
I couldn't agree more. The important work that will go on here in coming years will help secure Idaho's place at the center of energy research and policy development, and will put the best and the brightest from Idaho State University there as well.
Arthur C. Vailas, Ph.D.
President, Idaho State University