Mechanical Engineering professor wins national award for nuclear packaging program

Program trains engineers to develop packages for the safe transport and storage of radioactive materials

Professor Miles Greiner seated indoors, next to the Greiner award trophy, with a window behind him.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Miles Greiner with the W. Edwards Deming Award for the Nuclear Packaging Graduate Program.

Mechanical Engineering professor wins national award for nuclear packaging program

Program trains engineers to develop packages for the safe transport and storage of radioactive materials

Mechanical Engineering Professor Miles Greiner with the W. Edwards Deming Award for the Nuclear Packaging Graduate Program.

Professor Miles Greiner seated indoors, next to the Greiner award trophy, with a window behind him.

Mechanical Engineering Professor Miles Greiner with the W. Edwards Deming Award for the Nuclear Packaging Graduate Program.

Mechanical Engineering Foundation Professor Miles Greiner accepted the 2022 W. Edwards Deming Outstanding Training Award in a virtual ceremony Oct. 27 on behalf of the University’s Nuclear Packaging Graduate Program.

A collaboration between the University and the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management Packaging Certification Program, the program was recognized in the category of Agile Management by Graduate School USA. Also recognized was the U.S. Navy’s Airborne Electronic Attack Systems Program Office, in the category of Human Capital.

“As the green nuclear industry grows, we need a new generation of nuclear packaging professions to replace a retiring nuclear workforce. This program helps provide those new packaging experts.”
-- James Shuler, manager, DOE Packaging Certification Program

Graduate School USA, which originated in the US Department of Agriculture in 1921, is a provider of professional development and training courses for the federal government and the private sector. It gives the award to a federal, state or local government organization that exemplifies excellence with an initiative or project that focuses on enhancing quality processes within that organization.

“Nuclear packaging is not a well-known specialty, but a wide variety of advanced technologies rely on it,” Greiner said. 

Nuclear Packaging is used to protect people and the environment during the storage, transport and disposal of radioactive materials. These materials are essential for carbon-free nuclear power, defense, medical diagnostics and treatment, as well as other advanced science and practical applications.

“Advanced nuclear power is a key component of the Mechanical Engineering Department’s research portfolio,” Mechanical Engineering Department Chair Petros Voulgaris said. “We are proud to receive the Deming Training Award. It brings attention to the need for nuclear packaging professionals and researchers, as well as the great educational and research work that Professor Greiner is performing with his students and collaborators.”

The program also aligns with one of the College of Engineering’s area of focus, designing for a green, net-circular world.

Since 2016, over 100 students have earned university graduate credit through the Nuclear Packaging Graduate Program by taking nuclear packaging courses at five different national laboratories. Seven students have earned graduate certificates, four of them in May 2022 alone. All the graduates have worked or interned at DOE national labs.

Work is underway with national labs to develop seven new courses, according to Greiner. Also under exploration is the viability of a new Master of Science degree in Nuclear Packaging. The program recently received a 5-year, $1 million grant from the DOE for the operation, development and continuous improvement of the Nuclear Packaging Graduate Program. 

“As the green nuclear industry grows, we need a new generation of nuclear packaging professions to replace a retiring nuclear workforce,” James Shuler, manager of the DOE Packaging Certification Program said. “This program helps provide those new packaging experts.”

Program has its roots in the ‘80s

In 1986, the DOE Packaging Certification Program began supporting world-class experts at DOE national labs to offer specialized courses to help engineers, management professionals and students enter and advance in nuclear packaging fields. In 2013, the University began working with the labs to offer 13 graduate courses in nuclear packaging that continue to be taught at national labs. Faculty also developed a hands-on internship course as well as two graduate certificates: one in Nuclear Packaging, another in Transportation Security and Safeguards. The University is an appropriate institution for this educational program because it has conducted nuclear packaging research since 1993, with funding from the DOE, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the State of Nevada. 

“DOE has long had a productive partnership with the UNR and its nuclear packaging courses of study,” said William “Ike” White, DOE senior advisor for Environmental Management. “Students who are receiving training and certification through the ‘Packaging University’ program are helping the department develop the next- generation well-trained, technically skilled and diverse workforce.”

Nuclear packaging professionals are essential to safe operations at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) in southern Nevada, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico, Consolidated Interim Storage Facilities that are planned in New Mexico and Texas, as well as national labs and nuclear power plants across the country and around the world.

“Nuclear packaging skills are key to not only our business but that of many other DOE sites,” Robert Kanning, NNSS’s Nuclear Materials manager, said. “We sponsored the first person to earn UNR’s Nuclear Packaging Graduate Certificate, and we would love to see the program grow. It is the best way we know to recruit and train highly skilled packaging engineers.”

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