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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Engineering faculty aid national security

Since the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. has focused attention toward developing the technology required to curb future threats. Many A&M faculty continue to contribute directly to national security through their research and policy development.
Among these researchers is David Boyle.
“I never felt, prior to 9/11, that anybody would really want to detonate a nuclear weapon and kill 50,000 people,” said Boyle, deputy director of A&M’s Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI). “Now I believe differently.”
Boyle’s concentration is nuclear non-proliferation. His organization, NSSPI, focuses on the next generation of leaders in nuclear security sciences. It’s working to combine nuclear science with nuclear policy, and make nuclear energy a safe resource for the world. NSSPI’s research areas include proliferation risk analysis, combating nuclear terrorism and ensuring the peaceful use of nuclear energy.
“One of our missions is to enable other countries to get the benefits of nuclear energy while at the same time making sure that we and other countries don’t have to worry that somehow the technology will be misused,” Boyle said.
Boyle also emphasized the importance of the mutually beneficial nature of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. This treaty, which has been signed by 189 nations in 40 years, calls all countries that possess nuclear technology to share the knowledge with developing countries so that they, too, may benefit from nuclear energy. In exchange, the receiving countries must comply with international non-proliferation safeguards.
“[A&M is] involved with some training and education programs in countries that do not currently have nuclear energy,” Boyle said. “We wouldn’t provide that help if the country we’re talking to was not committed to meeting all the requirements of global non-proliferation standards.”
Another important aspect of preparing for possible threats is being aware of how to handle nuclear attacks, should one ever occur. Professor of nuclear engineering John Poston specializes in radiological health and safety, with emphasis in responding to terrorist attacks.
“You have to have a plan on how you are going to respond to these emergencies, and then you have to exercise that plan,” Poston said. “That is, you have to have drills, and some of those drills are fairly realistic because this is not the kind of emergency we are used to responding to.”
Raymond Juzaitis, nuclear engineering department head, emphasized the modern necessity for well-rounded individuals with extensive training in multiple fields. He advocated for educations that blend science and engineering with policy.
“I don’t think that the nuclear profession can live with nuclear engineers that don’t know both aspects of their work,” Juzaitis said.
Specific research projects at A&M also contribute to non-proliferation and homeland security by keeping the U.S. at the forefront of innovation. These projects include nuclear forensics systems, used to detect highly enriched uranium and tools that determine nuclear weapon latency and measure the amount of fissile material in fresh and used nuclear fuel.
“The reason I think that countries like ours can still get ahead is because we can engage innovation on our science and technology base so we can be one step ahead,” Juzaitis said.
Juzaitis added that A&M’s engineering strengths are complemented by the University’s service-first mentality.
“One nice thing about Aggies is that they blend this commitment to public service with excellence in science and technology,” Juzaitis said.

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