Friday, June 13, 2014

Nuclear Engineering Students in Top Ranks:

Three Nuclear Engineering Undergrads Among "Most Impressive" at MIT

As an MIT alum, I am always interested in news covering just about anything MIT-related, so my interest was piqued when I saw a link to an article from Business Insider entitled, "The 14 Most Impressive Students at MIT Right Now."  I opened it.  After all, I might have a chance to learn something about someone who is destined to win a Nobel Prize someday.

Well, in the first place, I discovered that the article is a year old, so please forgive me if you have already seen it.  I had not.   Secondly, having read the article, I can't say that I can guess which of the students might be future Nobelists.  Since many of this group are focusing on fields of engineering, the answer might be "none of the above."  However, what did strike me first was how much some of these students were doing while they were still undergraduates.  While I believe that I was a pretty serious student and I also engaged in a variety of extracurricular activities, what these students are doing makes my undergraduate achievements pale by comparison.

But what really got my attention was that 3 of the 14 were nuclear engineering majors.  And even more, I happen to know one of them.  Let me share some highlights about each of them:

Cameron McCord
Cameron McCord, who graduated in 2013, double-majored in nuclear engineering and physics.  He has already had stints with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, and Brookhaven National Laboratory.  He was the battalion commander of the Navy ROTC at MIT, a player on the MIT soccer team, a member of the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program, and a recipient of a Truman Scholarship.

I met Cameron when he came to Washington in 2011 with MIT's DC Summer Internship Program, which I'm proud to say that my husband and I support.  Since he was interested in nuclear engineering, we served as his sponsors for the summer, so I'm especially pleased to see him recognized.

As a bit of a DC policy wonk myself, I particularly liked this quote the article included from him:  "Nuclear engineering and nuclear energy production will always be closely linked with policy.  They come hand in hand. If you aspire to be a nuclear scientist or engineer and you don’t make a concerted effort to both understand the policy as well as how to communicate, work in teams, and lead people, I think you are doing yourself a disservice."

He is initially serving in the Navy, but anticipates a career in government or a non-profit organization, working in the areas of nuclear safety and nonproliferation. 

Ekaterina "Katia" Paramonova

Ekaterina "Katia" Paramonova, also of the Class of 2013, majored in nuclear engineering and minored in public policy.  She is a dual Russian and US citizen who wants to help improve relations between the US and Russia, because she believes that countries have to be willing to work together in order to achieve success.  [As an aside, she obviously has greater challenges now than when this article was written.]

She has also studied at the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute doing materials research for the International Thermonuclear Reactor (ITER).  At MIT, she participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), working at the  MIT nuclear reactor, and was an assistant student leader of the Gordon-MIT Engineering Leadership Program.  In addition, she co-chaired a 500-person student conference through the American Nuclear Society, and organized a trip for MIT students and faculty to the AtomExpo Nuclear Conference in Moscow to foster a discussion about the ways scientists and researchers in the two countries can help each other.

She plans to get a masters in nuclear engineering and a PhD in France in order to work with fast reactors.

Ethan Peterson
Ethan Peterson, Class of 2013 as well, was a double-major in nuclear engineering and physics, and in addition, had a minor in French.  He was co-captain of the MIT football team and was the second football player at MIT to be named a National Scholar-Athlete.  [The Business Insider article reported that he was the first, but the National Football Foundation showed an earlier winner from MIT some years ago.]  He was also treasurer of his fraternity, and he volunteered at the Special Olympics and at the Boston Medical Center.  In addition, he achieved the rank of Eagle Scout from the Boy Scouts of America.

He plans to pursue a PhD in nuclear engineering or physics and to become a college professor, working in the area of plasma physics and fusion research.

The resumes of the other 11 students are equally outstanding.  While I don't know exactly how the students were selected, what made them stand out from all the other high-achievers at MIT, and why 14 were selected, this is clearly an impressive group.  [Note that the end of the article has a link to a similar article highlighting 22 Harvard students with similarly impressive credentials.  Since Harvard does not have a nuclear engineering program, I have not included profiles of any Harvard students here.  Honestly, despite my allegiance to MIT, I would treat a Harvard nuclear engineer equally!]

Students who have amassed such credentials even as undergraduates give me high hope for the future.  And the fact that 3 out of 14 are nuclear engineering students gives me confidence that the nuclear field is attracting the best of the best, and that bodes well for the discipline.


No comments:

Post a Comment