Tristan Villarreal, a junior in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, is one of 42 students in the country to win the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP) undergraduate scholarship. This competitive scholarship is awarded to the nation’s top undergraduates pursuing nuclear energy-related degrees. It provides $7,500 to help cover education costs for the upcoming year.
Villarreal credits his mechanical and nuclear engineering faculty mentors, Charles Cartin, Ph.D., Jessika Rojas, Ph.D., and Zeyun Wu, Ph.D., with inspiring him to strive for excellence and integrity. Wu said of Villarreal’s performance in his reactor theory course and on his Vertically Integrated Projects team, “I can see his positive motivation and quick paces toward the essence of the physics problem he is working on. Tristan is the type of student who has both qualitative talent and teamwork discipline.”
Upon graduation in 2021, Villarreal is undecided as to whether he will go to graduate school or pursue a career in industry or government. His overall objective, however, is clear.
“My goal for my nuclear career is to make nuclear energy the cleanest, most efficient and safest form of energy. I believe that one day nuclear energy will be the main source of clean energy,” he said.