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School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering Nuclear Engineering and Materials


Nuclear power currently accounts for less than 20 percent of U.S. electricity production. Despite some arguments to the contrary, nuclear power will be a key component in the growing U.S. green energy economy, providing CO2-free baseload power that will supplement other renewables. WSU is a leader in nuclear research in the west, housing a power-producing reactor and a Department of Energy national laboratory, both located in Richland, WA. Historically, because of its proximity to the Hanford site, Eastern Washington has also been a leader in the environmental remediation of nuclear waste One of the keys to nuclear energy thriving in the U.S. is a sustained public perception of responsible stewardship of all aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including operational safety, material security, and long-term environmental measures.

WSU is poised to be a key leader and make significant contributions in the field of nuclear science, including the nuclear fuel cycle, nonproliferation security, reactor safety monitoring, nuclear medicine, radioecology, nuclear waste form development, and policy. Our approach to nuclear science supports the WSU grand challenge of smart systems and national security and builds on our strong existing partnerships with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

WSU currently offers a certificate in Nuclear Materials and is planning to found an Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (currently under review by the Faculty Senate). Students graduating with focus in the nuclear sciences are well-prepared for jobs in science and engineering, including local regional opportunities with large engineering companies like Bechtel, WRPS, CH2MHill, high-tech startups such as Terrapower, and national laboratories such as PNNL and INL. WSU also houses the Nuclear Science Center, a 1 MW TRIGA (Teaching Research Isotope production General Atomics) reactor, which not only trains undergraduate students to be licensed reactor operators, but also operates cash-positive because of its service to the nuclear medicine isotope commercial community and its the opportunities it provides for nuclear research to college faculty and national laboratories. Additionally, a long-standing program at the WSU Institute for Materials Research focuses on nuclear physics and radiation detection for homeland security and energy. All of these resources and capabilities uniquely establish WSU as a strategic center for nuclear science and prepare us to perform world class research and education in this area.

Our diverse groups of WSU faculty members are committed to safe nuclear power and environmental stewardship and hold expertise in complementary areas. In the Voiland College of Engineering & Architecture (VCEA), faculty in the School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering (MME) perform research in nuclear fuels (Field, McCloy), reactor structural materials (Field, McCloy, Zbib), reactor monitoring (McCloy), nuclear waste forms (McCloy), radiation detection (Lynn, McCloy), solid mechanics of materials in extreme environments (Zbib, Beckman), environmental chemistry (McCloy, Lin), positron storage (Lynn), and nuclear fusion energy (Leachman). New research is targeting the use of radiation-resistant robotics for environmental remediation of nuclear sites, which is being pursued by joint programs between MME (Swensen) and the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS).


Topics in Nuclear Engineering and Materials

  • Nuclear waste forms
  • Radiation effects on materials
  • Room temperature radiation detectors

Faculty in Nuclear Engineering and Materials

Display NameContact InformationPhoto
Beckman, Scott
Associate Professor, Acting Director of the Materials Science and Engineering Program (MSEP)
ETRL 252

Field, David P
Director, Institute of Materials Research, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
McCloy, John
Professor, Director, School of Mechanical & Materials Engineering
Sloan 201A