University of Pittsburgh
September 28, 2010

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner, Pitt Alumnus to Discuss Resurgence of Nuclear Energy With Pitt Engineering Students

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) member and Pitt alumnus William D. Magwood IV will visit the University of Pittsburgh to discuss the recent reemergence of nuclear power as a global energy option and to encourage students to study science and engineering. Magwood also will discuss Western Pennsylvania’s potential as a center for nuclear energy production, research, and education. 

One of the five NRC commissioners responsible for ensuring the safety of U.S. commercial nuclear power plants, Magwood will address current and prospective Pitt nuclear engineering students Sept. 30 during Pitt’s Nuclear Engineering Night beginning at 6 p.m. in the Lower Lounge of Pitt’s William Pitt Union, 3942 Forbes Ave., Oakland. Hosted by the Pitt Swanson School of Engineering’s nuclear engineering program, the event provides students with information on Pitt’s nuclear engineering certificate programs and scholarships and features representatives from Western Pennsylvania companies specializing in nuclear power. 

Before joining the NRC, Magwood was instrumental in cultivating the recent increase of investment and public interest in nuclear power. As director of the Office of Nuclear Energy for the U.S. Department of Energy from 1998 to 2005, Magwood was the U.S government’s senior nuclear technology official and advisor. He encouraged a reconsideration of nuclear power technology and renewed commitment to nuclear technology education. He also led the creation of the “Nuclear Power 2010” initiative to encourage new nuclear power plant construction. Partly as a result of his efforts, the NRC has received 18 applications for the construction and operation of 28 new commercial nuclear reactors. 

Magwood began his career as a scientist at Westinghouse Electric Corporation analyzing radiological and hazardous waste disposal, treatment, and handling systems. He received his MFA from Pitt, as well as bachelor’s degrees in English and physics from Carnegie Mellon University. 

Western Pennsylvania hosts one of the highest concentrations of nuclear power-related companies and experts, including Bechtel Bettis, Inc., which has a research facility in West Mifflin; Westinghouse Electric Company, one of the world’s largest vendors of nuclear reactor technology; and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, which operates the Beaver Valley Power Station nuclear power plant in Shippingport. 

Pitt sought to meet these companies’ growing demand for employees by establishing Western Pennsylvania’s only nuclear engineering graduate and undergraduate certificate programs in 2007. Supported by grants from the NRC and the U.S. Department of Energy, Pitt’s nuclear engineering program works closely with experts from local companies in designing and teaching courses to ensure that students receive the most relevant, up-to-date education. Since 2007, Pitt’s Nuclear Engineering Program has received almost $1 million through the NRC’s Nuclear Education Grants program, which provides funding to build a nuclear engineering curriculum, hire faculty, and offer scholarships. 

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