U.S. Department of Energy awards VCU College of Engineering $1.5 million toward a research, education and training Center of Excellence

Engineering foundation professor and director of nuclear engineering programs, Supathorn Phongikaroon, Ph.D., will bring together nuclear engineering faculty at VCU, VCU’s School of Business, VUU and VSU faculty members in Department of Energy-funded research project.

Supathorn Phongikaroon, Ph.D.
Supathorn Phongikaroon, Ph.D., professor and director of nuclear engineering programs.

The Department of Energy (DoE) has awarded Supathorn Phongikaroon, Ph.D., professor and director of nuclear engineering programs, with $1.5 million over the next three years for his integrated research project (IRP), which will establish a research, education, and training Center of Excellence.

Phongikaroon’s goal with the award is to assemble comprehensive expertise on the nuclear fuel cycle and waste management to further assist advanced reactor designs.

The proposal team will bring a fully diversified group of students from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), Virginia Union University (VUU) and Virginia State University (VSU) to construct a unique research and education training program – the first of its kind to exist in the state of Virginia.

This significant, one-of-a-kind learning environment is designed to support “collaboration and cross-pollination of ideas” between nuclear engineering communities. It will give students the opportunity to work with national laboratories (e.g., Idaho National Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, etc.) and nuclear industries (e.g., Dominion Energy, Seaborg Technologies, NuVision Engineering, etc.).

“The grant will help sponsor at least 9 full-time undergraduate research students and 3 full-time Ph.D. students at VCU,” said Phongikaroon. “In addition, the grant will support several students from VSU and VUU to fulfill their goal of nuclear fuel cycle and waste management knowledge.”

This collaboration aims to unite the efforts of universities, national laboratories and the nuclear industry while equipping the upcoming generation of scientists and leaders with the necessary skill set, flexibility of thinking, diversity and collaborative mindset to solve future DoE nuclear engineering needs.

Phongikaroon says, “Virginia runs on friendly nuclear energy,” and with this significant grant the future of clean, nuclear energy in Virginia is brighter than ever.