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Ashley Lindstrom
Communications Coordinator
512-232-7121

For the past two decades, the Nuclear and Radiation Engineering (NRE) program in the Department of Mechanical Engineering has offered masters and doctoral degrees completed by distance learning. Through these advanced degrees, individuals can pursue career growth opportunities to become the next generation of national laboratory personnel. NRE students begin their master’s work at The University of Texas, and then transition to national laboratories as staff employees or graduate research assistants. Graduate students reside primarily at national laboratories, though some are in industry, and take courses to earn or complete their PhDs. 

Sheldon Landsberger, Professor of Nuclear and Radiation Engineering

Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has awarded a 4-year, $771,000 contract to the NRE program as a unique opportunity for their current employees and development of a future workforce. Their intentions are to explicitly teach and mentor a cohort of new graduate students, primarily to complete their PhD studies while remaining in Los Alamos, New Mexico. Funding will also support one mechanical engineering graduate student and one mechanical engineering or physics undergraduate student with guaranteed summer internships at LANL, with the intent to recruit them as future employees of LANL. 

The distance learning program lectures are provided to graduate students via video recordings (produced at the Department of Mechanical Engineering or at the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Lab) and are available online. These students complete the same course assignments and exams as on-campus students, but interact with their peers and the instructor largely through electronic communication and collaboration tools on the Canvas system. A teaching assistant or instructor is assigned to their courses to help ensure smooth communication between students their professor. Research topics, usually computational, are chosen with the consent of a supervisor in the NRE program and a co-supervisor at LANL.

William Charlton, Director of the Nuclear Engineering Teaching Laboratory

Students who complete the distance-learning program obtain the best of both worlds: the real-world experience of national laboratory research and development challenges and an innovative, academic pathway to solutions. All the research is unclassified and thus can be published in peer-reviewed journals. However, the results from these projects can still have a broad impact on US national security. Distance learning is an important component to the educational endeavors of the NRE graduate program through which the Department of Mechanical Engineering, the Cockrell School of Engineering and The University of Texas support the mission of national laboratories by offering a state-of-the-art delivery with a strong infrastructure and excellent mentoring.

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