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SCSU students complete nuclear summer at UW-Madison

SCSU students Alan Seedarsan (left) and Michael Collingwood spent the summer here through a unique DOE exchange program.

SCSU students Alan Seedarsan (left) and Michael Collingwood spent the summer here through a unique DOE exchange program. (33K JPG)

"It was nice to get hands-on experience with the reactor," says student Alan Seedarsan about one of the courses he took this summer. "Operating a nuclear reactor was not something I actually visualized myself actively doing."

It was an experience he couldn't get at his university, South Carolina State University (SCSU), since its School of Engineering, Technology and Sciences does not offer a nuclear engineering degree. Instead, Seedarsan and classmate Michael Collingwood attended UW-Madison this summer as part of a dual-degree exchange program. A U.S. Department of Energy-funded pilot, it encourages students from SCSU, one of the nation's Historically Black Colleges and Universities, to pursue degrees in nuclear engineering or health physics.

When they graduate, the students will receive degrees both in nuclear engineering from UW-Madison and in their chosen field at SCSU. Seedarsan is studying mechanical engineering technology, while Collingwood is pursuing a degree in electrical engineering technology and physics.

The program's first participants, the two spent their freshman, sophomore and junior years at SCSU and recently completed two intensive nuclear engineering summer courses at UW-Madison. They returned to SCSU for the fall semester of their senior year and will finish their final spring and summer semesters in Madison.

Their UW-Madison education includes not only a reactor lab, but also courses in reactor operations, theory and design; economics and environmental analysis, power plant technology, and materials.

And they hope the additional educational exposure will pay off. "A lot of the mechanical engineering courses at SCSU overlap with the nuclear engineering courses," says Seedarsan. "So if I can do some extra courses and have more doors open to me — all the better for me right now so I can have a wider selection to make my choices."

Collingwood views his nuclear education as part of the bigger picture. "I've been thinking about a career in power engineering, and I'm seeing that this is just one way of generating power," says Collingwood. When he returns to UW-Madison in spring, he also plans to explore courses in power engineering through the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

To complete their dual degrees, both expect to work hard. "It's not a program to be taken lightheartedly," says Seedarsan. "If you want to stay in the program, you need to realize there's a lot of work required."


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Copyright 2001 The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

Date last modified: Friday, 09-Nov-2001 09:37:00 CST
Date created: 07-Nov-2001 10:49:00