VCU’s nuclear engineering program celebrates 10th anniversary

Supathorn Phongikaroon, associate professor of nuclear engineering.

Ten years ago, Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering added nuclear engineering to its program offerings, bringing comprehensive nuclear engineering education to Virginia. Today, VCU is the only university in Virginia with an accredited undergraduate nuclear engineering concentration, as well as M.S. and Ph.D. programs in mechanical and nuclear engineering.

These programs are making robust intellectual contributions to the discipline while also meeting significant industry needs. The idea to create them originated when industry and academia came together to solve a problem.

“Around 2007 or so, Dominion Resources’ nuclear business unit employed a lot of people who had come in with bachelor’s degrees in engineering, but they had to leave the state to go any further into their education in nuclear engineering,” said Kerry Basehore, who was director of nuclear analysis and fuel for Dominion from 1997 to 2016. “We looked at the situation, and at the fact that the VCU School of Engineering had opened 10 years earlier, and we said, ‘Why don’t we start a night program?’”

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