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Accolades: Notable Achievements, June 16, 2017

Here are some recent awards, recognitions, and other accolades from our college’s faculty, students, and staff.

Richard Wood Named Fellow by ANS;
Jamie Coble Honored for Work with Nuclear Safety

Richard WoodNuclear Engineering Professor Richard Wood has been selected as a 2017 fellow of the American Nuclear Society (ANS), one of the highest honors a nuclear engineer can achieve. The award was presented during the ANS annual conference in San Francisco June 11-15.

Jamie CobleAssistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering Jamie Coble was also honored with the society’s early career award for her work with nuclear safety. The ANS noted that her work with monitoring and diagnosing equipment related to nuclear energy made her a “perfect fit” for the HFICD Ted Quinn Early Career Award, named in honor of an expert in nuclear instrumentation.

Read more about the ANS honors

Bryson Honored by UT Foundation

Dorothy BrysonDorothy Barkley Bryson, executive director of development for the Tickle College of Engineering, received the 2017 Board of Directors Award from the UT Foundation at a reception and dinner on Thursday, June 15.

The award is given to promote, encourage, and recognize staff efforts and outstanding achievements.

Campa Noted for Outstanding Abstract at National Conference

Maria Fernanda CampaMaria Fernanda Campa earned the Outstanding Abstract Award at the Microbiology Microbe 2017 annual meeting, held June 1–5 in New Orleans. Her winning abstract is titled “The Impacts of the Biocide Glutaraldehyde on Community Structures and Degradation Potential in Streams Impacted by Hydraulic Fracturing.”

Campa works with Terry Hazen, Governor’s Chair for Environmental Biotechnology, at the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Graduate Education.

Read more about Campa


Nuclear Engineering in Prague, 2017

Trey Augustine and Chris Haseler

View from Prague Castle 2017

View from Prague Castle 2017

The first week in Prague was spent touring various sites around the Czech Republic. On Monday, we made the drive to a uranium mine, which is one of the few in the world. The following day, we drove to Temelin, one of the nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic. This was a great tour as we were able to compare this plant’s Russian design with the facilities we are accustomed to seeing in the United States.

On the third day we had the chance to visit a Czech research institute. We were taken on tours to see two of their test reactors located here, as well as various loop structures, which they conduct flow and material research with. This institute was a short train ride outside of Prague, so afterward we went as a group to tour the Prague Castle.

Prague Castle 2017

Prague Castle 2017

This castle was an incredible experience. The highlights of this tour were climbing to the top of the tour for an amazing view of the city, and also visiting the cathedral within the castle. The thing that stood out most to me was the visible age of the architecture and structures. Growing up in the US, I often forget how young we are as a country. Standing inside a cathedral which is centuries older than our country put this into perspective.

This brought us to the midpoint of the first week. It was an extremely busy first few days but ultimately a rewarding mix of both technical and cultural experiences. Thursday morning, we boarded a train as a class headed to Vienna, Austria, where we would spend the next couple of days.

Due to the busy start to the week, and the remaining effects of jet lag, a majority of the class took this three-hour train ride to catch up on some sleep. Those that were able to stay awake were treated to incredible views of the countryside. The distinctive characteristic of the Czech countryside is the vast number of biofuel fields. These fields are planted, then burned with the intent of generating energy. The flowers are brighter then sunflowers, and extend from field to field, filling the horizon.

These fields transitioned from biofuel fields to windfarms as the train made its way into Austria. In just this short train ride, we were able to get a snapshot of both countries and some of the alternative forms of energy they are implementing.

NE Class at UN Vienna

NE Class at UN Vienna

Our time in Vienna, although short, was impactful. After arriving on Thursday afternoon, we had some time that night to familiarize ourselves with the city. The next day was spent at the United Nations. Visiting any of the UN headquarters is exciting in itself since there are only four locations in the world, but visiting the headquarters in Vienna was especially exciting for us because this was the home of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The IAEA is an international group which deals with monitoring the nuclear materials and capabilities around the world. We were briefed by a public affair official from the agency. He described the agency’s efforts, and summarized some recent events, which included last year’s highly covered US Iranian nuclear deal. A member of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) gave the second briefing of the day.

As nuclear engineers, and not political scientists, none of our group even knew of this treaty. This treaty put an end to nuclear weapons testing around the world. Although this has been an international norm (for the most part), the US is one of eight countries that have not yet ratified the treaty. Hearing this briefing was my favorite part of the day as it was completely unexpected, yet seemingly a vital cause which I think more attention could be given to in the US.

Following the UN tours, we went to St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the town square of Vienna. It was similar to Prague, and I was struck by the age of the structure. One of the standouts to this tour was not the cathedral above ground, but the crypts below. This marked the end of the first week of our trip. The next morning we boarded our train back to Prague, ready to begin or time on the test reactor.

The second week of our study abroad course in the Czech Republic was an intensive five-day reactor training course on the VR-1 Reactor at Czech Technical University in Prague. The reactor was an easy five-minute walk from our hotel, so at 8:30am every morning we made our way over to the reactor classrooms for a quiz and lecture. After the lecture, the reactor operators powered up the reactor and readied it for experimentation.

Neutron Detection Experiment 2017

Neutron Detection Experiment 2017

The experiments on the reactor covered a variety of different topics, from neutron detection in the core to analyzing criticality conditions. Our first experiment, measuring neutron flux at different locations in the core, involved manually adjusting the positions of detectors while monitoring the power to ensure the reactor remained stable. Each student adjusted a detector and recorded the results.

Each lab focused on a unique concept, including reactor kinetics and dynamics, criticality, reactivity, control rod calibration, and safety systems. My two favorite experiments took place at the end of the week, once we were familiar with the controls.

Reactor Operation Trey 2017

Trey Augustine practices reactor operation in Prague.

First, the reactor criticality experiment involved bringing the reactor to a stable, critical state with only a pen, paper, and basic calculator. The reactor operator steadily raised the control rods according to our calculations. Students were split into groups, and each group approximated where the control rod would need to be to reach criticality. Every single group was within 5mm of the correct location, just by doing the calculations manually.

Reactor Operation Chris 2017

Chris Haseler practices reactor operation in Prague.

The final experiment was the best, in my opinion. We each got a chance to take the helm and control the reactor, raising and lowering control rods to see the effects. When power was increased too high, the safety limits were reached and caused a scram event, safely shutting down the reactor in less than a second. We all got a chance to take control, which I think was the highlight of the trip!

UT’s Wood Named Fellow by American Nuclear Society, Coble Honored

KNOXVILLE—Nuclear Engineering Professor Richard Wood of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Tickle College of Engineering has been selected as a 2017 fellow of the American Nuclear Society (ANS), one of the highest honors a nuclear engineer can achieve.

Assistant Professor of Nuclear Engineering Jamie Coble is also being honored with the society’s early career award for her work with nuclear safety.

Richard Wood

Richard Wood

Given in response for what the group called his “significant contributions to nuclear engineering,” Wood’s award will be presented during the ANS annual conference in San Francisco June 11-15.

“We are extremely happy for Richard and for this recognition of his years of innovative work,” said Wes Hines, head of the department. “His selection is validation of the contributions he has made to the field, to our department, and to our university.”

As part of his recognition, the ANS pointed out that Woods alone is responsible for having developed or revised one-third of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s codes and guides.

The society also noted Wood’s expertise in international reviews of nuclear safety as a major reason for his induction.

“Being inducted into the ANS as a fellow is very gratifying, both personally and professionally,” said Wood. “It’s a great reflection on the work we do here and with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and demonstrates a recognition by the nuclear power community of the significance of our research.”

Jamie Coble

Jamie Coble

Woods is the fifth faculty member in the department to be named an ANS Fellow, along with Hines, Chancellor’s Professor and Robert M. Condra Professor Lawrence Townsend, Professor Belle Upadhyaya, and UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Nuclear Materials Steven Zinkle. Several part-time and emeritus faculty members also hold the distinction.

For Coble, the ANS noted that her work with monitoring and diagnosing equipment related to nuclear energy made her a “perfect fit” for the HFICD Ted Quinn Early Career Award, named in honor of an expert in nuclear instrumentation. 

The ANS was founded in 1954 as a nonprofit entity with the goal of promoting nuclear science and technology. It now includes 11,000 members representing 1,600 universities, research centers and businesses. 

Record Number of UT Students Honored by American Nuclear Society

KNOXVILLE—The American Nuclear Society will bestow 11 scholarships on nuclear engineering students from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, at its annual meeting in San Francisco on June 11.

That number, a record for the department, is the latest sign of recognition of UT as a national leader in nuclear engineering education.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for our students and a reflection of the strengthening of our program over the last decade,” said Wes Hines, head of the department. “Being able to have some of the top students in the country — as acknowledged by these selections — is a key to that growth.”

The impressive total includes two Blount County residents: Gavin Ridley, a graduate of Seymour High School, and Mullin Green, a Maryville High School graduate.

Ridley won the Rudolf Stamm’ler Undergraduate Reactor Physics Scholarship, named for a pioneer in nuclear physics who developed a number of concepts still in use today, while Green received the Sophomore Undergraduate Scholarship.

Other undergraduate winners are:

  • Christopher Haseler, of Fairfax, Virginia
  • Kalie Knecht, of Charleston, West Virginia
  • Austin Saint-Vincent, of Vero Beach, Florida
  • Andrew V. Volkovitskiy, of Louisville, Kentucky

Graduate student winners are:

  • Jessica Bishop, of Fredericksburg, Virginia
  • Rachel Gaudet, of Clarksville, Tennessee
  • Austin Mullen, of West Chester, Ohio
  • John Wagner (hometown withheld)
  • Fan Zhang, of Shanxi, China

The ANS was founded in 1954 as a nonprofit entity with the goal of promoting nuclear science and technology and now includes 11,000 members representing 1,600 universities, research centers, and businesses.

Part of the Tickle College of Engineering, UT’s nuclear engineering department began in 1957 and has produced more than 1,400 graduates, with its doctoral program enrollment tripling in the past seven years. 

Accolades: Notable Accomplishments from the TCE Community

Here are some recent awards, recognitions, and other accolades from our college’s faculty, students, and staff.

Moeller Receives Awards, Fellowship

Trevor Moeller

Trevor Moeller

Trevor Moeller, UT Space Institute associate professor and graduate program director, mechanical, aerospace, and biomedical engineering, was nominated for the University of Tennessee President’s Award. Earlier this spring, he received the Charles and Julie Wharton Teaching Fellow Award (established in 2016) for superior teaching in the college’s annual Faculty and Staff Awards.

Moeller was also recently selected as a Faculty Fellow in the NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Faculty Fellowship Program for this summer. He will spend 10 weeks working on a research project involving a low‐power electric propulsion thruster with his Marshall collaborator, Kurt Polzin.

Read more about Moeller’s President’s Award

Greene Appointed to Committee

David Greene, research professor in civil engineering, received a provisional appointment to the National Academies’ Committee to Review the Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report.

Read more about David Greene

ISE Recognized at IISE Annual Conference

Faculty and students from the Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering earned notice at the 2017 Institute of Industrial and System Engineers (IISE) Annual Conference.

  • Christopher P. Muir — Harold & Inge Marcus Scholarship
  • Danika Dorris — Best Operations Research Undergraduate Paper
  • Mingzhou Jin, professor and associate department head — Outstanding Advisor for the Mid-Atlantic Region

Visit the ISE website

Jingke Mo Receives Chancellor’s 2017 Citation

University of Tennessee Space Institute (UTSI) graduate student Jingke Mo was recently awarded the Chancellor’s 2017 citation for “Extraordinary Professional Promise” at the Chancellor’s Honors Banquet.

Read more about Mo’s citation

Nuclear Engineering Students Score Big with ANS and NEUP

Numerous students from the Department of Nuclear Engineering received ANS and NEUP scholarships ans fellowships this spring.

American Nuclear Society (ANS) Scholarship Recipients

Undergraduate Students

  • Mullin S. Green
    Sophomore Undergraduate
  • Kalie Knecht
    Undergraduate (Junior/Senior)
  • Austin F. Saint-Vincent
    ANS Joseph Naser HFIC Division Undergraduate Scholarship
  • Andrew V. Volkovitskiy
    Operations and Power Division Scholarship
  • Gavin K. Ridley
    Rudy Stamm’ler Undergraduate Reactor Physics Scholarship

Graduate Students

  • Rachel N. Gaudet
    James F. Schumar Scholarship
  • Jessica L. Bishop
    Robert E. Uhrig Graduate Scholarship
  • Fan Zhang
    Vogt Radiochemistry Scholarship
  • Austin D. Mullen
  • John C. Wagner
    John and Muriel Landis Scholarships
  • Christopher J. Haseler
    Washington, DC Local Section Undergraduate Scholarship

Nuclear Engineering University Program (NEUP) 2017 Scholarship & Fellowship Recipients


  • Jessica Bishop
  • Devon Drey


  • Abdullah Al-Fadhili
  • Trey Augustine
  • Amanda Bachmann
  • Parker Forehand
  • Travis Greene
  • Christopher Haseler
  • Matthew Herald
  • Kalie Knecht
  • Peyton Laura
  • Jonathan Mitchell
  • Gavin Ridley
  • Harrison Smith
  • Andrew Volkovitskiy

Read more about the Department of Nuclear Engineering

UTSI Staff Service Awards

Several staff members of the University of Tennessee Space Institute’s (UTSI) were recognized at the institute’s Service Award Recognition Luncheon. This annual event honors faculty and staff as they reach milestones in their employment with the Space Institute.

Read more about UTSI’s award luncheon

EcoCAR 3 Team Welcomed Home From Successful Competition

EcoCAR 3 Team

The 2017 EcoCAR 3 team earned several superlatives in this year’s competition. Faculty advisor Butch Irick, wearing orange here, earned Outstanding Faculty Advisor.

Faculty, staff, and students gathered on the engineering plaza on May 26, 2017, to welcome home the University of Tennessee EcoCAR 3 team. They earned an overall fifth-place finish (out of 16) with a sweet set of superlatives in their third year of competition.

  • First IVM — 60 mph
  • First 50-70 mph
  • First in Ride Quality
  • Spirit of Communications Award

To top it all off with a bang, Butch Irick, research assistant professor in mechanical engineering, was named Outstanding Faculty Advisor.

Keep up with the EcoCar team

Tickle College of Engineering to Welcome Budding Engineers from Across US

High School Students Participate in Pre-college Camp

A group of high school seniors preforms an experiment during one of the Tickle College of Engineering’s pre-college camps in 2016.

The Tickle College of Engineering will play host to more than 100 high school students over the next few weeks through its annual EVol and HITES camps with participants coming from high schools across the nation.

The camps, which began in 1997, introduce younger students to broader aspects of college life, while providing upperclassmen a learning opportunity more tailored toward engineering specifically.

EVol—Engineering Volunteers—serves rising 9th and 10th graders in June, while HITES— High School Introductions to Engineering Systems— focuses on upperclassmen in July.

“This is a way for us to bring aspiring engineers on campus, show them what that field of study is all about, how to prepare for a career in engineering, and give them the experience of staying on campus and college life,” said Travis Griffin, Program Director of Engineering Diversity Programs.

“We feel that the Tickle College of Engineering can give them the perfect chance to grow scholastically and as a person, and these camps help show why students should attend UT.”

Featured topics at the camps include prepping students for the ACT, introductions to college-level sciences, design labs, and projects aimed at connecting classwork to real-world outcomes.

Further solidifying that link between the classroom and the boardroom, Eastman and Volkswagen are each sponsoring portions of the camps, one of which includes a field trip to DENSO.

Career Fair Makes Connection for Recent Grad Sami Hijer

Sami Hijer

Knoxville native Sami Hijer graduated as an industrial engineer in May 2017 and recently started working for Smithfield Foods in North Carolina.

“I am very proud and thankful for this opportunity, and for the people and experiences that have led me to this,” said Hijer. “I have found that the first step towards achieving your goal is an unshakable sense of drive and purpose. You must decide what you truly hope to achieve in a career, why you want to achieve it and do everything morally possible to accomplish your goal.”

To help achieve his goals, Hijer built a focused resume filled with great experiences. He credits the Center for Career Development with indispensable assistance in accomplishing this.

“I performed at, or near, the top of my class and put my best foot forward on every task, regardless of the impact on my grade,” he said. This gave me the chance to achieve letters of recommendation. I also attended every career fair that was available, and this allowed me to sharpen my skills in communication, as well allowing me to network.”

At the Spring Diversity Job Fair, Hijer met a recruiter from Smithfield. A series of interviews followed, and he was offered the opportunity to work there as an industrial engineer.

Q&A with Sami Hijer:

Where are you from?

I was born and raised in Knoxville, and I attended Powell High School from 2009-2012

Why did you choose industrial engineering?

I chose industrial engineering because I wanted a career that was centered around using my skills in math, science, and business to improve the lives of the people I work with as well as the customers of the company I work for. Industrial engineering has allowed me to do this, and I could not ask for a more impactful and rewarding discipline.

What is one thing you are looking forward to most about living in North Carolina?

I have wanted to live in North Carolina since I first visited it as a child, and I look forward to the chance to build a life with my soon-to-be wife. It will afford us a chance to grow closer, without being able to rely on our family.

What is the one thing you are going to miss most about Knoxville?

I will miss my family and friends most of all.

What has been the most meaningful experience you have had while at UT?

My most meaningful experience at UT has been having the opportunity to work with local manufacturing companies to improve their competitiveness and the well being of their employees.

Did you participate in an internship?  If yes, where and what year of school?  What did you learn from it?

I did not participate in any internship, due to other obligations, but I was able to supplement this with excellent project experience and certifications. That being said, I would strongly urge future students to gain internship experience as it will make finding a job that much easier.

Nuclear Engineering Students Trained in Prague, Czech Republic

Study abroad group in from of “Fission” statue at the nuclear power plant Temelín.

The UT nuclear engineering study abroad group visits the “Fission” statue at the nuclear power plant Temelín.

Twelve undergraduate students from the Department of Nuclear Engineering (NE)  participated in the study abroad Experimental Reactor Physics Laboratory class (NE427) during the recent summer mini-term. The class was led by Ondřej Chvála, research assistant professor in nuclear engineering, at the Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague, Czech Republic.

UT nuclear engineering professor Belle Upadhyaya (left) with study abroad program leader Ondrej Chvala (center) and CTU department head Lubomir Sklenka, standing above the VR-1 reactor.

UT nuclear engineering professor Belle Upadhyaya (left) with study abroad program leader Ondrej Chvala (center) and CTU department head Lubomir Sklenka, standing above the VR-1 reactor.

The students spent the first week visiting several sites throughout the Czech Republic—including a uranium mine and a yellow cake chemical factory, Temelín nuclear power plant, research institute in Řež near Prague, and the Prague Castle. In Vienna, Austria, the group visited the Belvedere Palace, the United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Preparatory Organization, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral.

During the second week, the students worked with nuclear reactor VR-1 at the university, performing reactor-physics-related measurements and working out respective lab reports. Each student actually operated the reactor on the last day of the labs.

Students in the VR-1 experimental hall perform measurements at the experimental stations.

Students in the VR-1 experimental hall perform measurements.

This is the fifth time this study-abroad class was held. It is open to undergraduate and graduate students interested in nuclear reactor dynamics and hands-on experimental work. Contacts with the Czech university had already led to mutual student exchanges and research collaborations with the UT nuclear engineering department. This year, UT nuclear engineering professor Belle Upadhyaya visited CTU and presented a seminar titled “Integral Reactors: I&C Research, Technical Gaps, and Challenges.” He discussed possibilities of future research collaboration along these topics.

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