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An initiative of the Department of Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M University is to offer an academic curriculum that prepares students for industry. Internships present a unique opportunity for students to implement what they have learned in classes and gain first-hand knowledge regarding what it takes to transform theoretical ideas into practical applications.

This summer, several students from the nuclear engineering department were selected from companies across the nation for internships, including Dillon Scott, Olivia Overlease and Abrah Saha.

Dillion Scott
Image: Courtesy of Dillon Scott

Dillon Scott

Scott spent the summer in Buffalo, New York, in a nuclear safety internship at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP). The WVDP is the site of a decommissioned commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing facility.

As a nuclear safety intern, Scott updated the transuranic waste container database, performed statistical analysis and activity estimates for the site’s documented safety analysis and contributed to the revision and modernization of other safety documents required.

“I had the opportunity to support and present nuclear criticality safety training for dozens of workers,” said Scott. “This internship provided the opportunity to learn more about nuclear waste storage and management and the intricacies of working at a nuclear site.”

Scott feels his education at Texas A&M impacted his internship directly, and the internship has helped him throughout this academic year.

“During the course of my internship, I was able to draw on my education, particularly in the field of radiation, to understand better the work that I completed,” said Scott. “The experience I gained during my internship has given me a better understanding of the practical applications of the material taught in class.”

Scott initially chose the nuclear engineering department because of its rapid advancement and the many opportunities across engineering fields. His combined experiences have further prepared him for a nuclear engineering-based career.

“I would like to find work that allows me to use my education to contribute meaningfully to the technological advancements needed to combat the challenges of the modern world,” said Scott. “The field of nuclear engineering has the potential to impact the world in many ways positively. This is especially true because of the increased demand for clean energy production.”

Olivia Overlease
Image: Courtesy of Olivia Overlease

Olivia Overlease

Overlease started at Texas A&M in fall 2021. Finding nuclear engineering interesting and realizing the many career routes nuclear engineers can take, she felt she could make her mark on society through nuclear engineering.

“The aspect of nuclear engineering I’m most interested in is energy generation,” said Overlease. “I think there is a huge capacity there to serve others and contribute meaningful work to the world. The advances in and growing support for nuclear reactor technology is really exciting, and I expect it to provide many opportunities for nuclear engineers.” 

This past summer, she interned for X-energy on the Instrumentation and Control team. Overlease shadowed the instrument and control team members as they worked on their individual tasks that contributed to the large-scale project of building a four-reactor Xe-100 power plant for one of Dow’s facilities. The Xe-100 is X-energy’s high-temperature gas-cooled reactor that can be assembled in a group of four to produce 320 megawatts of electricity.

After shadowing, she selected the aspect of the project she wanted to join. Her project centered around making computer-aided design models. To learn how to build these models, she created a digital mockup of a new lab, which could be viewed through Virtual Reality. Using the techniques she learned from creating the lab mockup, she modeled the radiation and seismic sensors that would be the 3D placeholders in the 3D plant model used for operator training and virtual tours.

Abrah Saha
Image: Courtesy of Abrah Saha

Abrah Saha

Saha chose nuclear energy due to his passion for finding carbon-free energy solutions and the ability to apply nuclear engineering principles to many fields.

“Nuclear engineering holds immense potential for positive global impact,” said Saha. “It provides a clean, high-density energy source, significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This stable baseload power supports a reliable electrical grid, complementing intermittent renewable sources. Additionally, nuclear technology extends to crucial fields like medicine, space exploration and water desalination.”

Saha directly applied his nuclear engineering knowledge to his summer internship as a Core Design Intern (Neutronics) at Framatome Inc. His internship focused on a licensing problem analysis for a boiling water reactor before refueling, which is related to reactor safety and regulatory compliance. He also conducted reactor simulations, visited fuel and fabrication facilities and increased his knowledge of BWR core.

“My internship has significantly enhanced my understanding of reactor core designs, making me better prepared for unfamiliar topics related to reactor core design and fuel designs that may arise during my academic studies at Texas A&M,” Saha said. “This real-world experience has strengthened my foundation in nuclear engineering, providing me with increased confidence in the classroom.”

Moving forward, Saha would like to become a Principal Core Design Engineer, working to design reactor cores for refueling after each fuel cycle.