Graduate Student Steven Czyz works in the Oregon State Radiation Detection Lab
Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Graduate Student Steven Czyz works in the Oregon State Radiation Detection Lab.

Two College of Engineering students recently took top honors at the national American Nuclear Society (ANS) Student Conference and another won the 2018 Innovations in Nuclear R&D Award sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

At the student conference, Doug Woods, a nuclear engineering graduate student, won the Best Paper in Mathematics and Computation for his paper “Diffusion Synthetic Acceleration for High Order SN  Radiation Transport.” “I hope to see this work further developed and incorporated into research and production codes,” he said. “Because it provides benefit for some practical applications.”

Kyle Brumback, also a nuclear engineering graduate student won the conference’s Best Paper in Education and Policy for his paper “Zero-emission Credits: New Policy for Nuclear and Climate Change.” He was also the Innovation Competition Winner for his presentation “Enhancing Geothermal Resources with Spent Nuclear Fuel.”

“Most of my curiosity is finding ways to couple nuclear technologies with current environmental, climate, and societal issues,” said Brumback. “It was truly a wondering feeling being recognized in this focus both on the policy and innovation sides of the industry.”

Nuclear engineering graduate student Steven Czyz meanwhile won the DOE award with his paper “A Prototype Detection System for Atmospheric Monitoring of Xenon Radioisotopes.” Czyz has developed a prototype radioxenon detection system at Oregon State that uses lower cost materials than traditional radioxenon detectors. These detectors are used to verify underground nuclear weapons tests in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

“I want to see this design pushed to its limit,” Czyz said. “There's still a lot of growing room for the ideas presented in this paper; what we designed was just a prototype after all. I want to see how people can use these ideas--the design philosophy, the material combinations, the techniques we employed--to produce some real state-of-the-art devices. There's always improvements to make on older designs, and so recognition like this makes it more likely that this design will be a bedrock for future improvements.”  

After graduation, Woods plans on heading to a national lab for further computational physics work. “I have been applying for postdoc positions at some national labs to perform computational research in high energy density physics applications,” he said.

Brumback is looking toward the analyst route in nuclear and energy policy. “I want to take part in the discussions happening and help shape the directions of our state and federal energy policies,” he said.

Czyz, meanwhile, hopes to pursue a career in academics. “I want to be a professor one day!” he said. “Professors are always learning, always teaching, and always trying new things, and I want that to be me one day. I want to be the one that can provide an answer to the question of "Well wait, why don't we try this?"

— Jens Odegaard.