Doug Adkisson
Monday, March 12, 2018

Growing up as a fourth-generation wheat farmer in eastern Oregon, Doug's father suggested he consider a different vocation and maybe even take a stab at engineering. That decision sent him to Oregon State and into a 40-year career as a nuclear engineer. He was one of six inductees into the Oregon State College of Engineering's Academy of Distinguished Engineers in 2018. Membership into the academy is awarded to alumni who have made sustained and distinguished contributions to their profession, the field, the university, or society at large.  

Adkisson has a broad range of skills in the global nuclear industry, much of which he gained while working for Siemens and AREVA. He's held senior positions in nuclear engineering, licensing, operations, R&D, reactor services, fuel research, and helped launch two startups. His larges project was a $500 million design, construction, and operations project for the U.S. Department of Energy.

As the senior operating manager of AREVA's largest U.S. nuclear fuel facility, Adkisson managed manufacturing operations, equipment, process design, and maintenance. "Creating organizational change is rewarding but sometimes painful," said Adkisson. "In the long haul, I really enjoy helping an organization run more efficiently." 

In 2008 he joined TerraPower, a technology-innovation company formed by Bill Gates and a group of visionary thinkers, to develop more of scalable, sustainable, emission-free, and cost-competitive nuclear energy sources. "They were looking for someone who already had startup experience," Adkisson said. "It was, intellectually, a lot of fun." TerraPower is teaming with another company to develop a traveling wave reactor, a nuclear reactor valued for its potential to produce power from a nearly inexhaustible source of fuel. The first advanced reactor will be built to this design in China.

Adkisson has recently retired, but remains a consultant for TerraPower. For the last four years, he's served on the advisory board for the School of Nuclear Science and Engineering in the College of Engineering at Oregon State.