Nuclear engineering faculty and students participate in Nonproliferation Summer School in Russia

Photo of NSSPI team in Russia

Faculty and students from the Department of Nuclear Engineering and researchers in the TEES Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) participated in the Sixth International Nonproliferation Summer School, "Nuclear Technologies: Nonproliferation, Disarmament, and Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy," in  Tomsk, Russia, from Aug. 10-20.

Photo of student Eowyn PediciniThe Texas A&M delegation consisted of Dr. Alexander Solodov and students Jessica Feener, Matt Fitzmaurice, Braden Goddard, Zak Kulage, Eowyn Pedicini (pictured), Kate Putman, Matt Sternat, and TPU alumnus Alexandra Khudoleeva.

While in Russia, the team also met with and discussed joint research and educational projects with Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) faculty, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the two universities, and toured the TPU museum, exhibition center, educational laboratories, and the Atomic Energy Information Center.

At the Nonproliferation Summer School, 26 students from Russia, the Ukraine, and the U.S., along with 16 experts from various organizations around the world, gathered to participate in a weeklong course on nuclear nonproliferation. The student participants represented a variety of both technical and policy backgrounds and were at different stages of their educational careers, anywhere from third-year undergraduates to Ph.D. students.

During the course of the school, students participated in a various activities, including lectures and presentations by experts, presentations by fellow students, hands-on exercises and simulation games, a writing/speaking workshop for Russian-speaking students, and social activities in the evenings.

Two simulation games Photo of NSSPI summer schoolwere carried out relating to creating a physical security system for a nuclear reactor and negotiating a tactical nuclear weapon reduction treaty. During the first exercise, groups of students were given a layout of a reactor facility and a set of security equipment to use. They were asked to develop a full security system for the site, justify choices of the security plan, and determine locations of various protection measures and security sensors. During the second simulation, participants were asked to represent a variety of European NATO states, Russia, Ukraine, United States, and several non-weapon states around the world. The goal of the simulation was to potentially negotiate a treaty aimed at reducing the number of tactical nuclear weapons on the European continent.

While in Tomsk, the Texas A&M delegation achieved a major milestone towards closer collaboration between the two universities after the MOU outlining areas of joint work was signed by TPU rector Chubik and Texas A&M president, Dr. Bowen Loftin.

While touring, U.S. participants were presented with the history of one of the oldest universities in Siberia and a variety of educational programs and major accomplishments of its professors and students. They also saw laboratories featuring nondestructive assay instrumentation, physical security equipment, radiochemistry and other laboratories used in nuclear security and nonproliferation education programs.

Photo of Texas A&M and Russian studentsOn the last day of the summer school, all participants toured the Atomic Energy Information Center in Tomsk. The main purpose of the center is educating the public on about various aspects of nuclear energy, the nuclear fuel cycle and, particularly, the safety of nuclear operations. Students participated in an interactive presentation on nuclear waste handling and disposal.

The visit of the Texas A&M delegation to TPU and the nonproliferation summer school had extensive coverage in the local media. Some of the media reports can be found here: (Texas A&M visit to TPU) (Summer school story starts at 21:33)


There were also several interviews for radio and newspaper coverage by both experts and students.

View more photos here.