Undergrad wins Department of Energy Nuclear Engineering award
Chemical engineering undergraduate Nick Krammer is one of two Ohio State engineering students to receive accolades from the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy.
Krammer, who is working to complete a minor in nuclear engineering, was accepted into the DOE’s Nuclear Engineering University Program (NEUP). The $5 million program provides 50 scholarships and 31 fellowships at 35 institutions across 23 states. Ohio State received one scholarship and one fellowship.
Krammer, who won the scholarship, began working as a student assistant for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency’s Radiological Division in the fall of 2020. His work involved calibrating dosimeters and decommissioning obsolete Geiger Counters. Over winter break, Krammer was able to gain experience at Ohio State’s Nuclear Reactor Lab before joining the Nuclear Analysis and Radiation Sensor Lab (NARS) run by Dr. Raymond Cao.
“I am very thankful to have received this scholarship, and it really shows how supportive my engineering professors have been in my undergraduate studies with the opportunities they’ve provided,” Krammer said. “It also shows how much the Department of Energy values nuclear energy and its development for the next generation of reactors.”
The scholarship will allow Krammer to dedicate his time to nuclear research during his final undergraduate semester. He hopes it will also help provide more opportunities to explore the nuclear research and engineering field, an area he became interested in while exploring carbon-free energy options. During this research, he discovered that nuclear energy, while contributing to national security by providing a domestic, diversified energy source, was also a complement to wind, solar and energy storage technology in the effort to reduce our carbon footprint.
"Nuclear energy will likely be a necessary component in the U.S.’s energy portfolio in its transition away from fossil fuels," Krammer said. "It is extremely safe, reliable, and can create a lot of high-paying jobs. I think it would be awesome to be part of a team to commercialize some of the first Gen-IV advanced reactors."
As a junior, Krammer researched what adding a nuclear engineering minor would require, and found the additional workload to be very reasonable. While chemistry is at nuclear energy's core, he was able to practice skills and concepts in other areas when he took nuclear engineering classes and worked in the reactor lab.
“Pursuing the minor opened doors for many opportunities I otherwise would not have had,” said Krammer, who is currently completing a co-op with Lubrizol, but plans to apply to some nuclear power companies in the late summer or fall. “I’d encourage other students who are interested in a particular field outside of their direct major to pursue a minor in that field,” Krammer added.
The NEUP fellowship recipient was nuclear engineering graduate student Pearle Lipinski. Lipinski is the first dual nuclear and law student, and recently received the Marie Sklodowska‑Curie Fellowship from the International Atomic Energy Agency.