Woodruff School Students Awarded DOE Funding

Three students from the George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering have been awarded funding from the Department of Energy's Nuclear Energy University Program (NEUP).

Mechanical engineering PhD student Aurellio Bellotti and nuclear engineering PhD student Lisa Reed are receiving NEUP graduate fellowships while nuclear and radiological engineering undergraduate Neal Atkinson is receiving a scholarship. Stefani Kocevska, a graduate student in Georgia Tech's School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering is also receiving a fellowship.

Bellotti, who is from Charlotte, North Carolina, is beginning his third year at Georgia Tech. His research focuses on the application of non-destructive evaluation of additive manufacturing (AM) components using nonlinear ultrasound. Adoption of additive manufacturing in the nuclear industry has been slowed by a lack of confidence in the performance of AM parts, necessitating a need to develop a reliable method of evaluation. Having interned at Sandia National Labs and the Electric Power Research Institute as an undergraduate, Belotti is looking forward to more opportunities to work in national labs.

"This fellowship also allows me to continue the non-destructive research work that I have been pursuing since starting research in undergrad," said Bellotti.

Reed is entering her sixth year at Georgia Tech and second as a nuclear engineering graduate student, having already earned her bachelor's degree in NRE. The Dacula, Georgia native's research is in developing new computational methods for nuclear reactor simulation, specifically salt-cooled reactors.

"Most particle simulation codes have been designed for water reactor types, but the physics of the problem change significantly when there are molten salts involved," said Reed. "The research I’m performing is to advance the tools we have in order to better suit the needs of these advanced reactor types. Being awarded the NEUP fellowship was a huge honor, and I’m really excited to pursue the rest of my PhD work knowing I’ll be supported for the next three years." 

Atkinson, who is receiving a scholarship, is heading into his senior year as a nuclear and radiological engineering major. He is spending his summer interning in the Reactor Engineering group at Duke Energy's McGuire Nuclear Station.

"After getting a co-op with Southern Nuclear and learning about climate change, I came to see just how critically important these nuclear plants are to our future," said Atkinson when asked why he chose nuclear engineering as a major. "The non-proliferation aspect of policy has also been of particular interest to me."

"This scholarship combined with my work is the last piece of my financial aid puzzle" added Atkinson. "Because of this, I have a fighting chance to graduate without student loans. I never would have imagined that possible a few years ago, but this scholarship fills the last gap in my college funding for which I am extraordinarily grateful." Following graduation next May, Atkinson will be working full-time at Georgia Power's Vogtle Electric Generating Plant located near Waynesboro in Eastern Georgia.

Through the Integrated University Program, the U.S. Department of Energy is awarding more than $5 million for 45 undergraduate scholarships and 33 graduate fellowships to students pursuing nuclear energy-related disciplines at universities across the country. Through this program, undergraduates will receive a $7,500 scholarship, while fellowship winners will receive up to $50,000 annually over the next three years. The graduate fellowships will also include $5,000 toward a summer internship at a U.S. national laboratory or other approved facility to strengthen the ties between students and the Department's nuclear energy research programs. The selected students will study a breadth of critical nuclear energy issues, from fuel cycle sustainability to reactor efficiency and design. Since 2009, the Energy Department has awarded over $44 million to students pursuing nuclear energy-related degrees.