• Jay Disser

Penn State College of Engineering gaining an independent Department of Nuclear Engineering

by Ashley WennersHerron

The Penn State College of Engineering will once more have an independent Department of Nuclear Engineering as of July 1, 2019. Thanks to a generous gift from an alumnus and his wife, the academic unit will split from the Department of Mechanical Engineering to become the Ken and May Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering. Now, with a nationwide search underway, the Department is looking for a new leader. The separation of the departments was approved by Nicolas P. Jones, Penn State executive vice president and provost, on the advisement of the Faculty Senate Council, on Nov. 13, 2018.

The departments merged in 1997 by then-Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering David N. Wormley and Richard Benson, then-department head of mechanical engineering, with the goal of alleviating the pressures of declining enrollments. Bolstered by mechanical engineering, the nuclear graduate program is now ranked 16th by U.S. News and World Report.  


In addition to broadening research efforts, a standalone nuclear engineering department will allow for expanded academic offerings and specialized concentrations. The separation will build on the program’s strengths in clean energy production and nuclear security, according to Justin Schwartz, the current Harold and Inge Marcus Dean of Engineering.

A historical leader in nuclear engineering, Penn State remains one of the few institutions in the world with an operating research nuclear reactor. Opened in 1955 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the Braezeale Reactor’s license was issued as part of Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program, aimed at capitalizing on the use of nuclear fuels for peaceful applications.

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Media Contact: Ashley WennersHerron | P: 814.865.6416 | E:

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