Six Texas A&M University nuclear engineering students recently travelled to Moscow, Russia for a two-week long internship at the National Research Nuclear University’s Moscow Engineering Physics Institute (MEPhI). The trip was part of a joint three-year project on education in advanced energy technologies with the University of Maryland and was funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The project’s purpose was to foster understanding of practical educational approaches in both the U.S. and Russia and to develop new collaborations between faculty and students.
Graduate students Braden Goddard, Matt Sternat, Megan Pritchard, Marie Cuvelier, Damien Lebrun-Grandie, and Bruno Turcksin participated in the internship under the direction of nuclear engineering lecturer, Alexander Solodov. During their visit, the students visited the MEPhI research reactor, Scientific Education Center, Nanotechnology Center and a number of other departments at the institute.
“This was a great opportunity to learn how students are taught nuclear engineering in Russia as well as meeting current and future Russian nuclear scientists,” said Goddard.
While at the MEPhI Department of Theoretical and Experimental Reactor Physics, students discussed their research projects in the areas of nuclear nonproliferation (Goddard and Sternat); advanced energy systems development (Pritchard and Cuvelier); and numerical methods (Lebrun-Grandie and Turcksin) with MEPhI faculty and students.
“This trip was an excellent opportunity to examine technical research and facilities at a well-known institute on the other side of the planet,” Sternat said. “It was quite interesting to see the differences in research areas as well as rules and regulations involving laboratory materials and equipment.”
In addition to presenting their projects and research groups, the students heard similar presentations from the MEPhI students and faculty. From these presentations, they explored the possibility of further interactions and collaborations with the MEPhI students and faculty on behalf of their advisors: Drs. William Charlton, Pavel Tsvetkov and Jean Ragusa.
“I will continue working with one the reactor physics post-doc students,” said Pritchard. “He is building a full-core reactor model in the SCALE system, and since I have experience with this, I can help him where he needs it.”
Aside from their studies, students were able to participate in many cultural activities from visiting museums to playing a friendly U.S. vs Russia soccer match and even an arm wrestling contest.
“While everything during the trip was quite interesting, my favorite part of the trip was experiencing the Russian culture,” Sternat said. “Everything from eating in restaurants to the nightlife, I really enjoyed Moscow as a city and learning some of the history of the culture, country and city itself.”
This trip concludes the three-year project, but Tsvetkov says that he is hopeful that future collaborations will be developed from this experience.