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Thomas Plunkett

Thomas Plunkett (29K JPG)

Wisconsin Rapids native and EP alum Thomas Plunkett has donated $250,000 for four full-tuition undergraduate scholarships for juniors and seniors in the department's nuclear engineering degree program.

"I received considerable help from scholarships during my undergraduate years and it always stuck in the back of my mind that somebody else would appreciate that kind of help, too," he says of the scholarships.

Professor and Chair Mike Corradini credits alumni such as Plunkett for supporting both the nuclear engineering program and its students. "This gift will enable us to provide sorely needed scholarship support to top-notch undergraduate engineering students interested in nuclear engineering as a career, continuing nuclear energy as a viable power technology in the 21st century," he says.

Plunkett is the son of Bernice and the late Francis Plunkett. A 1957 graduate of Lincoln High School, he attended UW-Madison and received his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1961 and master's degree in nuclear engineering in 1962.

He began his career with McDonnell Douglas Corporation's nuclear department and later joined Indiana and Michigan Power Company's D.C. Cook nuclear plant as a technical supervisor. In 1977, Plunkett became plant manager of the Illinois Power Company's Clinton nuclear power station and in 1990 began working for Florida Power & Light as vice president of its Turkey Point nuclear power plant. He retired as president of Florida Power & Light Company's nuclear division last year and lives with his wife, Nancy, in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Recipient of numerous honors and awards, Plunkett may be best remembered for leading recovery and cleanup efforts after Hurricane Andrew devastated southern Florida in August 1992. When the storm hit, he and 234 other Turkey Point employees manned the power plant, then turned it into a shelter with on-site child care and hot meals for some-600 workers and family members.

Plunkett believes nuclear power will be important in the future. "We are not going to be able to continue using fossil fuels indefinitely and the only major source of energy that will be available is nuclear energy," he says. "I thought it would be helpful if I could contribute a little to this important educational field."

He has named two of his four scholarships to honor Max W. Carbon, professor and chair when the nuclear engineering department originated in 1963. This fall, two UW-Madison juniors received scholarships, which also may be renewed for their senior years. The department will award two additional scholarships to juniors in fall 2003.


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Date last modified: Thursday, 07-Nov-2002 16:09:45 CST
Date created: 07-Nov-2002