LSU ME Receives Scholarship Grant to Power Nuclear Program

BATON ROUGE, LA – The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently awarded 51 grants totaling more than $15 million to 40 academic institutions in 25 states. The lone recipients in Louisiana were LSU Mechanical Engineering Assistant Professor Manas Gartia and his co-principle investigators, ME Assistant Professor Fengyuan Lu and ME Chair Dimitris Nikitopoulos, who received $200,000 for their request of financial support for the “LSU Scholarship Program for the Expansion of Nuclear Power Engineering.”

The grant is a two-year program that allows the LSU Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering to expand the Nuclear Power Engineering Scholarship, which began in 2017 with funding from the NRC under Lu’s leadership. It will support eight undergraduate students in the NPE minor each year, and each student will be awarded a scholarship of $10,000 for one academic year if he or she maintains their eligibility.

“The main objective of the proposal is to attract high-quality undergraduate students by providing them incentives to join the NPE minor and prepare them for a career path in nuclear industry or academia to meet the regional and national nuclear workforce demand,” Gartia said. “Further, it will help us bring in guest speakers and advocates of nuclear workforces from the national laboratories, government agencies, and nuclear industries to inspire students to make a career in nuclear safety and security sectors.”

Nuclear science and engineering education at LSU dates back to 1958. For more than 40 years, the university offered graduate degrees in nuclear engineering, health physics, and medical physics, with approximately 200 graduates in NE and HP alone. In 1999, however, low enrollment led to suspension of the NE program, and the HP curriculum refocused on medical radiation safety as part of the LSU Department of Physics & Astronomy’s Medical Physics Program.

But recently, in the interest of addressing growing workforce and research needs in nuclear areas, LSU, Southern University of Baton Rouge, Entergy, and the former Shaw Group were motivated to support renewed academic programs in NE and HP with an emphasis on nuclear power at LSU. This effort has brought more than $2.49 million in grants from the NRC to LSU over the last nine years, including this most recent scholarship grant.

“The vision at LSU is to establish and sustain an interdisciplinary nuclear education and research program that will supply graduates immediately marketable to industry and academia, satisfying the need for highly trained nuclear professionals,” Gartia said.

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