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K-State Today

July 8, 2011

Nuclear engineering education gains momentum from Navy partnership

Submitted by Julie Fosberg

Nuclear engineering is giving Kansas State University a boost in its growing relationship with the armed forces.

The U.S. Navy is working with K-State and its higher education partners to expand nuclear engineering education for Big 12 students and Navy personnel alike. Officials from the Big 12 Engineering Consortium -- led by K-State -- and the U.S. Navy Naval Nuclear Propulsion and Naval Recruiting Command have signed a memorandum of understanding.

"K-State's longstanding expertise in nuclear engineering is one of the assets that positions us to become a top 50 public research university," said K-State President Kirk Schulz. "It's rewarding to see our leadership in nuclear engineering not only benefiting neighboring Big 12 universities, but also allowing K-State to expand our military partnerships."

The Big 12 Engineering Consortium allows students to enroll at a Big 12 school to take online nuclear engineering courses taught by other partner schools. K-State, Texas A&M University, the University of Missouri and the University of Texas at Austin were the first to teach the shared courses. Iowa State University and the University of Kansas developed new courses that were offered beginning this spring.

Because the consortium is working with the Navy, students will have the opportunity to go onboard Naval vessels and interact with the Navy's nuclear officers. Faculty will become familiar with job opportunities in the nuclear Navy that might interest Big 12 students.

In turn, the consortium offers online postsecondary engineering education to Navy personnel. The consortium is an ideal vehicle for the Navy because it connects students and educators at a distance, said Lt. Yancy Woodard.

"Lifelong education is a top priority in the Navy," Woodard said. "Being part of the Big 12 Consortium gives us the opportunity to have nuclear engineers teach courses and also provide personnel with an avenue for graduate education."

The collaboration allows the Navy an opportunity to make its nuclear engineering efforts more visible to students and faculty.

"Partnering with the Navy will ensure that our at-a-distance engineering programs engage students and enhance their knowledge so they are prepared to positively impact society when they graduate," said Sue Maes, dean of K-State's Division of Continuing Education.

Mo Hosni, K-State professor of mechanical and nuclear engineering who directs the Big 12 Engineering Consortium, said he was grateful to the U.S. Navy Naval Nuclear Propulsion and Naval Recruiting Command for supporting the consortium.

"Undoubtedly the Big 12 Engineering Consortium, the Navy nuclear trained personnel, faculty and students will benefit tremendously from this agreement," Hosni said. "K-State prides itself for being recognized as one of the top military-friendly colleges and universities in the nation. We are honored to have an opportunity to work with the U.S. Navy by offering nuclear engineering courses, offering distance education programs and hosting Navy officers."

K-State has been a leader in nuclear engineering since the field's infancy. In 1958 K-State was the third U.S. university to create a nuclear engineering program behind the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Michigan. In 1964 K-State's program earned the distinction of being the first to gain accreditation.

"The strengths of our nuclear engineering program continue to be recognized through partnerships such as this," said John English, dean of the College of Engineering. "I see only positive outcomes from this new alliance between the U.S. Navy and the Big 12 Engineering Consortium."