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Shauf standing in an A&M shirt
Elise Shauf received the Nuclear Energy University Program scholarship created by the Department of Energy. | Image: Courtesy of Elise Shauf

Elise Shauf spent her childhood tinkering with FM radios and dissecting pens. The daughter of two engineers, her parents created an environment that fostered self-learning and discovery. While other kids at school dreamed of living in castles and healing pets, Shauf fantasized of a world she could build herself.

Now an undergraduate student in the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University and the recipient of a scholarship from the Department of Energy (DOE), she is turning her dreams into a self-fulfilled prophecy.

“Ever since I was 5 years old, I was content knowing that I was going to be an engineer,” she said. “I wanted to know things, I wanted to understand how things worked and I wanted to determine how to make things function better.” 

A dedicated student, Shauf had several choices when applying to colleges. However, she always felt a desire to be part of the Aggie family, and specifically, a member of the College of Engineering.

“I came here because of the stellar engineering curriculum and the Aggie atmosphere,” she said. “The school spirit and core values that inspire and guide us as undergraduates turn into a powerful network of former students that offers recognition and opportunity to those who achieve a Texas A&M degree.”

She decided she wanted to be a nuclear engineer after hearing about it during a chemistry class in high school. She was further influenced by her father, who served aboard the USS Virginia. Relaying tales of his times out at sea, she has contemplated the idea of becoming a nuclear reactor operator in the Navy.

Shauf in a lab working on a research project
A trait she inherited from her parents, both engineers, Shauf enjoys research and is curious by nature. | Image: Courtesy of Elise Shauf

Although still not fully decided on her career path, she possesses a love for research and hands-on experiences. This was also spurred by her parents, who allowed her to explore museums, probe libraries and bought her endless graphing paper packages.

“If you happen to accompany me for dinner, I usually have a portable thermocouple and a small balance in my purse, just in case we need to calculate the heat of vaporization of my water glass condensate,” she said. “This is just how I am.”

As the recipient of the Nuclear Energy University Program scholarship created by the DOE, she can continue exploring her deep intrigue with research. Her current studies at Texas A&M focus on the dyeing of liquid beryllium.

“This award significantly helps me financially,” she said. “Because of the funding that it provides, I can focus solely on doing my best in my senior year instead of worrying about tuition costs. I am very grateful for this honor.”

As she continues to build the world she dreamed of in kindergarten, she also hopes to construct a better world for others. She is anxious but confident that her education as a nuclear engineering student has prepared her to make impactful contributions to society.

“I would like to understand and apply nuclear engineering in a way that makes the world a better place and people’s lives easier,” said Shauf. “I want to make a difference, push the envelope, think outside of the box and challenge the status quo!”