Sunday, December 4, 2016

Nuclear History and ANS:

American Nuclear Society Presidents

I am pleased and proud to report that the American Nuclear Society (ANS) recently completed a project to post brief bios of all 61 ANS past presidents (plus the current president).  Pleased, because many of the past presidents were icons in the early development of nuclear power, or played key roles in the evolution and growth of the nuclear industry, and it is wonderful to have so many of their stories in one place.  Proud, because I had a role in helping solicit biographical information from the living past presidents and in searching for information on the deceased past presidents.  But let me quickly add that this was not a solo effort.  It involved the contributions of many people, both other ANS past presidents, ANS staff and others I contacted in the course of my research.

I had known the history of a number of the past presidents before I started the effort, and after I was elected ANS president (I served in 2001-2), I was always awed and humbled to be in such company.  So many of them were either founding fathers (yes, they were all men in the early days) of the industry, or leaders in its development and evolution. 

In fact, what I did know about some of the past president is probably what spurred me to initiate the project.  I wanted to share the history I knew with others, and to fill in the history of the ones I didn't know much about.  Assembling the activities and accomplishments of all the past presidents, and fleshing out more details on those I did know, provides a much more complete picture than I previously had and provides an impressive view of the important roles in nuclear power development played by the leadership of ANS.  I do encourage people to click on the link above and then click on the links for individual past presidents to get a glimpse of this history. 

In the meantime, a few of statistics will provide some idea of the scope and nature of the accomplishments: 

More than 20 of the past presidents, including almost every one of the earliest presidents, had some role in the earliest stages of nuclear power development.  Many worked on aspects of the Manhattan Project or on the earliest nuclear submarines.  Among the specific early reactors and facilities that were mentioned in articles I found on the early work of the ANS past presidents were such familiar names as the Daniels Pile and the EBR-I, to name just two.  

From the earliest days through the present, a number of ANS presidents have come from the academic community or have served a stint in academia.  Several of these early past presidents were instrumental in the establishment of the first academic departments in nuclear engineering, and several, both early presidents and more recent ones, have headed nuclear engineering departments.  We have also had past presidents who, before or after their term as ANS president, have held high leadership positions in all parts of the nuclear industry--for vendors, for utilities, for architect-engineers, for government, for an industry trade group, and even in a law firm.  A number of the past presidents have worked in more than one segment of the industry, and quite a few were in the nuclear Navy early in their careers.  

Many past presidents have been recognized with some of the most prestigious awards in the nuclear industry, as well as in the entire science and engineering community. 

Unfortunately, several of the bios are a bit sketchier than I would have liked.  This is in part due to the lack of much material in some cases, but it is also due to time limitations, both on my part and on the part of the ANS staff who helped edit, format, and post the bios.  As it is, it took just about a year to assemble everything.  For this, as well as for other reasons, we made conscious decisions not to make the bios too long or detailed, and to limit them to professional activities, accomplishments and recognition.    

It should also hasten to add that we have many other ANS members, past and present, who have made similarly major contributions to the industry.  This effort focused only on past presidents, and is not intended to suggest that they are the only ones who made such contributions.  Nor is it intended to suggest that the only measure of the accomplishments of these past presidents is their titles and awards. 

Finally, I want to thank all the people who helped make this project possible--all the living past presidents who provided me their biographical information; a couple of past presidents, most notably Ted Quinn and Jim Tulenko, who provided me with bios for several deceased past presidents; a number of people in companies and organizations I contacted where some of the deceased past presidents had worked who provided me with information I couldn't find on the Web; Linda Zec of the ANS staff, who sandwiched this effort between all her other duties (and, I might add, who got very interested in the project and sometimes even worked on it on weekends); and several people Linda worked with who formatted and posted the bios as we finished them. 

This project never would have been completed without all these contributions.  I hope the effort will allow more people a glimpse into some of the many accomplishments of the leadership of the American Nuclear Society.


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