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Some of the best and brightest undergraduate students from around the United States gathered at UT recently for the chance to meet top experts in the field of nuclear engineering.

“This area really is the birthplace of a lot of activities related to nuclear engineering,” said Wesley Hines, head of UT’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, which sponsors the annual event. “Some of these kids don’t realize all of the nuclear-related opportunities that exist here until they do this program. What we hope to achieve is to let people see all that is possible, all that is already in place when they come here.”

The sessions gave prospective graduate students a chance to mingle with some of the biggest names in nuclear research and energy, including Y-12, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the UCOR facilities at the East Tennessee Research Park, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as with UT faculty and students.

Students were also given tours of facilities on the UT campus and at ORNL and had the chance to speak with faculty members about the various programs offered by the university.

“This event is always a chance for students to talk to people with real-world experience in their chosen field of nuclear engineering,” said College of Engineering Dean Wayne Davis. “And it also serves as a way for us to showcase our nuclear engineering program, ranked sixth nationally, in the process.”

Current UT students served as hosts to the visiting undergraduates, giving potential incoming class members a chance to see the program from the student perspective and find out about what life is like at the university.

“We hear back from students who took part in this event all the time, and they tell us this program is really one of the things that helps set Tennessee apart,” said Hines. “These are students being recruited by some of the top schools in the country, and yet they say the way we do it is unique and really opens their eyes to the possibilities here.”

Lawrence Heilbronn, assistant professor in UT’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, organized the event for this year’s group of approximately twenty-five students from places as far-flung as the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Michigan.

Tennessee’s nuclear engineering program, already the third largest in the United States in terms of total students, has longstanding ties to the various nuclear programs and facilities across East Tennessee, and Hines said those ties, as well as ties to other businesses in the region, give him hope of a future for the department that is brighter still.

For more information on the University of Tennessee’s nuclear engineering program, visit the website.

C O N T A C T:

David Goddard (865-974-0683,

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460,