NCSU to lead $25M nuclear security program

Posted April 16, 2014 2:47 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina State University was named Wednesday as the lead institution on a five-year, $25 million program to develop the next generation of leaders with practical experience in technical fields relevant to nuclear nonproliferation.

In addition to training a pool of non-proliferation and other nuclear security professionals and researchers, the new Consortium for Nonproliferation Enabling Capabilities will provide the U.S. government with cutting-edge research to identify and address critical needs in detecting foreign nuclear weapon proliferation activities, officials said.

“For N.C. State to be selected to lead this vital national effort is a testament to our great faculty and strong leadership in nuclear engineering,” Chancellor Randy Woodson said in a statement.

Other institutions involved in the project include North Carolina A&T State University, the University of Michigan, Purdue University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kansas State University, Georgia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee and Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico.

Robin Gardner, N.C. State professor of nuclear and chemical engineering and director of the Center for Engineering Applications of Radioisotopes, will lead the consortium, and John Mattingly, associate professor of nuclear engineering, is a co-principal investigator on the project.

CNEC will involve at least seven other N.C. State faculty members across three colleges, along with two undergraduates, 13 graduate students and five post-doctoral fellows. The project also will establish a competitive graduate fellowship program that will sponsor six fellows per year.

Research projects will include enhanced simulation capabilities, models for detection sensors, remote-sensing capabilities and applications of data analytics to better characterize and detect special nuclear materials.

“This grant will link students with world-class researchers and introduce them to career possibilities at the national labs while providing education in areas of great importance for the nonproliferation mission,” said Anne Harrington, deputy administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science.

The project is the latest major research effort at N.C. State. In January, President Barack Obama visited the Raleigh campus to announce a $140 million manufacturing innovation institute to develop next-generation power electronics. Last August, the National Security Agency created a $60 million Laboratory for Analytic Sciences at the school to advance the science of big data.