Tuesday, September 15, 2015

NuScale Engineer Contributing to Nuclear’s Bright Future

As a nuclear engineer in 2015, I am privileged to be a contributor during a time of great change in the American and global nuclear industries. Energy policy and sustainability are at the forefront of our political and social landscape more than ever and are major concerns for Americans. After gaining a variety of technical skills during my eight years in the nuclear industry, my current role allows me to participate in innovative nuclear design and safety analysis that could set the standard for future designs. The realization that my work could positively affect the lives of millions and impact the nuclear industry for years to come is extremely humbling. Additionally, my work as a member of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) has facilitated the professional success of my colleagues, as well as myself, and provided us with opportunities to strive for change. It is thrilling for me to consider the fact that, as engineers, we exercise complex and hard-earned skills on a daily basis and are working towards contributing to greater prosperity and a brighter future.

Brett Rampal
Brett Rampal

The small modular reactor (SMR) technology being developed by hundreds of talented engineers at NuScale Power represents one of the first new types of reactor technologies, outside of boiling and pressurized water reactor technologies, to be designed in the U.S. in several decades. NuScale’s design, as well as those of other new nuclear start-ups, were barely dreams less than a decade ago, but now represent a powerful new approach to solving American and world energy challenges. NuScale technology is based on passive safety systems powered by the fundamental laws of nature. While the NuScale concepts are not new, the overall technological approach is innovative and has captivated the interest of the industry, including engineers, regulators, operators and investors. My role helps ensure that the many different facets of the new design operate safely and satisfy stringent regulatory requirements. NuScale technology is poised to become a strong part of the world energy infrastructure, contributing to safe, inexpensive electricity for millions.

As a forerunner in the nuclear energy start-up paradigm forming in the U.S., NuScale’s plans have struck a chord with young nuclear professionals around the country. As the vice-chair of the ANS Young Member’s Group (YMG), I am uniquely situated to ensure NuScale continues to lead the charge for new nuclear development. As shepherd to some of the most talented young individuals in the U.S., my role at NuScale provides me with the opportunity to better serve the members of the ANS YMG. Our members, who include professionals involved in all facets of the nuclear industry and graduate students, are committed to seeing those who are newest to the industry achieve the greatest possible success. Both the ANS YMG and North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) offer young professionals opportunities to engage in nuclear advocacy, professional development and advanced research. These groups provide members with valuable tools to enhance their effectiveness and reflect constructively on our entire community.

After nearly a decade of working in the nuclear industry, I have gained a unique perspective on America’s energy program and continue to work towards affecting change from within. However, it is important to note that the future of our industry is not certain. Asking any nuclear professional why nuclear energy is important to our energy future will yield a wide variety of responses, but the over-arching answer would be that it is clean, safe, inexpensive and reliable. Operational American nuclear power plants contribute approximately 20 percent of the electricity generated in this country. It would be a disservice to future generations not to consider nuclear energy as a viable part of America’s energy portfolio, today and in the future. This is especially important because approximately 63 percent of America’s carbon-free electricity comes directly from nuclear power. I hope that my work as a nuclear engineer and as a member of the ANS YMG helps ensure nuclear energy remains a strong contributor to America’s energy future.

The above post was sent to us by NuScale Power's Brett Rampal for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. It aims to showcase the best and the brightest in the nation’s nuclear energy workforce.

1 comment:

David Tidwell said...

Good article Brett. I know the future of nuclear power is in capable hands. D. Tidwell