The NRC: A View from a Summer Intern

After graduating from Florida State University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in Spring 2011, I was fortunate enough to be hired as a summer intern at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. My experience at the NRC so far has been everything I was hoping for and more.

I was given a technical project to develop a computer model that would benefit the NRC staff members in their future safety reviews. The model takes spent fuel data as input and gives the transient thermodynamic heat load seen in a spent fuel pool as an output. I will continue to work on this project next year while I pursue a master’s degree, because I am involved in a joint university-NRC sponsorship program. This will effectively combine oversight of my college professors with my NRC mentors.

In addition, I have been working with various staff members in my branch, the Systems Balance of Plant Branch in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, on different research items and reviews of spent fuel pool equipment. I also took several training courses this summer that ranged from what the NRC does to the engineering concepts behind nuclear reactors. Through all of this, I have been able to apply what I learned in both training courses, as well as my college courses, to real scenarios in the NRC.

Working with the NRC put engineering into a different perspective for me. I always assumed engineering was focused on design, but seeing how engineering principles are applied to the regulation of nuclear power plants in order to ensure public safety introduced me to a whole new side. Because of this, I have shifted my career goals to the nuclear power and safety field. I hope that by the end of this summer, my completed work will add to the NRC’s mission of public safety, and further my engineering knowledge and skills.

Jerry Tyberghein
NRC Summer Hire Student

Author: Moderator

Public Affairs Officer for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

5 thoughts on “The NRC: A View from a Summer Intern”

  1. Thank you for sharing your internship experience at the NRC. It sounds like the NRC provided you with a valuable internship experience that really helped you to identify the best career path for you going forward. Congratulations on a successful internship.

  2. Jerry:

    I am glad you are enjoying your summer internship at the NRC. I have no doubt that you will learn a lot and enjoy thought provoking challenges.

    Here are other fascinating challenges that nuclear engineers should seriously consider:

    1. Design and run experiments on long-known but neglected methods of destroying the radioactivity in nuclear waste.
    2. Design a way to scale up these processes so that they can be used on-site at a nuclear power plant.
    3. Design a way to use these methods INSIDE a nuclear reactor so that the radioactivity in the fuel rods can be neutralized even BEFORE the rod assemblies are removed from the reactor (!).

    A good place to start might be my article “Adventures in Energy Destruction” at:
    http://scripturalphysics.org/qm/adven.html

    and the references in the article “Transmutation / Remediation of radioactive elements” at: http://scripturalphysics.org/qm/issues.html#CincinnatiGroup

    Destroying radioactive waste on site obviates concerns about reprocessing, packaging, transportation, storage, and worries about terrorism and off-site accidents. This is certainly consistent with NRC’s mission of public safety.

    May you have a truly enriching experience at the NRC!

  3. Thank you for sharing your internship experience at the NRC. It sounds like the NRC provided you with a valuable internship experience that really helped you to identify the best career path for you going forward. Congratulations on a successful internship.

  4. Congratulations to NRC and you! Does Fla State ,or any other university,have a three hour nuclear and radiation course for engineering curiculum? Have you evaluated the use of spent control rods in thorium reactors?

  5. It is enlightening to learn that young minds are coming to bear on nuclear safety issues centered around spent nuclear fuel. However, please keep your young mind open to the fact that the NRC has miserably failed over the years to protect public health and safety by “rubber-stamping” 20-year license extensions to existing 40-year commercial nuclear plant licenses – despite the fact that the metal in the nuclear reactor vessel has become dangerously brittle after enduring 40-years of neutron bombardment. This is an unwarranted “nuclear experiment” on the part of the NRC recklessly endangers public health and safety!

    Thomas Saporito
    Senior Consultant

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