The Department of Energy is supporting a University of Missouri-Rolla plan to cultivate nuclear engineering students at Lincoln University. The DOE announced Dec. 7 that it has awarded UMR a $375,000 grant to foster the partnership with Lincoln, a minority-serving higher education institution in Jefferson City, Mo.
“Partnerships like this ensure that minority students have the opportunity to play a critical role in meeting America’s future energy needs in the field of nuclear engineering,” says Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman.
Grant money will be used to provide scholarships for outstanding Lincoln students who want to pursue undergraduate education in nuclear science and engineering. To be funded over three years, the grant will also help Lincoln establish nuclear engineering courses in Jefferson City and allow Lincoln students the option of completing degrees at UMR.
The Lincoln campus in Jefferson City is located about 60 miles north of the UMR campus.
“Many bright scientists wouldn’t be who they are without that one opportunity. We want to provide that opportunity."
Initially, some of the classes will be taught through distance learning, according to Dr. Arvind Kumar, professor and assistant chair of mining and nuclear engineering at UMR. “These will be UMR classes that are broadcast in real time,” says Kumar
The next step, according to Kumar, will be to establish a radiation measurements laboratory at Lincoln.
“We will purchase and set up the equipment with grant money, and we’ll be able to train Lincoln faculty to identify unknown sources of nuclear radiation in a state-of-the-art laboratory,” says Kumar. “The skills learned will ultimately help Lincoln faculty in the teaching of freshman and sophomore nuclear engineering courses.”
Lincoln has a two-year pre-engineering program but does not offer a four-year degree in any branch of engineering. “Three courses, two nuclear engineering courses and an applied mathematics class for nuclear engineers, will be taught jointly by Lincoln and UMR faculty,” Kumar says. “After completing studies at Lincoln, the students will have the option of moving into employment or transferring to a university like UMR.”
UMR is one of 21 institutions in the United States that offer bachelor’s degrees in nuclear engineering. The Rolla campus is the only place in Missouri to earn bachelor’s, master’s or Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering.
Starting this summer, selected Lincoln students will visit UMR to participate in laboratory classes and tour the nuclear reactor on campus. “They will also have opportunities to get internships at national scientific laboratories,” says Kumar, mentioning Argonne National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory. “That wouldn’t be possible without this program.
“Many bright scientists wouldn’t be who they are without that one opportunity. We want to provide that opportunity. We want to get them excited about being engineers, hopefully nuclear engineers.”