Illinois student chapter earns ANS distinction for second consecutive year
For the second year in a row, the American Nuclear Society student chapter at Illinois has earned distinction from the national ANS organization.
The student group has gained an honorable mention for the 2017 ANS Samuel Glasstone Award, recognizing the society’s most outstanding student section in the country. The honor follows last year’s success, in which ANS at Illinois won the Glasstone Award.
The 2017 recognition reflects the student group’s defense of nuclear energy plants that had been targeted for closure last fall in the state of Illinois. Citing financial losses at the generating stations in Clinton and the Quad Cities, Exelon Corporation had proposed to close the plants until the state government passed last-minute legislation that makes the plants more cost effective.
“The success of our chapter was primarily through focusing on advocacy, in the wake of possible nuclear power plant closures in Illinois, and getting more students involved,” said Aries Loumis, 2016-17 ANS at Illinois president. “Our messaging was and is talking about how nuclear power is integral to a path with less fossil fuels and more renewable and overall less carbon intensive sources of energy. We held tables on the quad to talk about nuclear energy, and its vital role in combating global climate change. Most students at Illinois who get involved in nuclear engineering today are doing it because they care about the environment.”
“We tried to branch out more to other student organizations like ‘students for environmental concerns,’ and Engineering Council,” Loumis said. “We also continued to work with (NPRE Department Head) Jim Stubbins on having students present their research from their senior design course. As a result we had both more attendance to the national (ANS) Student Conference and brought home more awards than any other student section in the country.”
A total of 36 NPRE students attended the 2017 ANS Student Conference held in April at the University of Pittsburgh, and gained six awards for leadership efforts and technical presentations. Fifty-four students attended the 2016 conference at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, and that year’s group also won more awards than any other student section.
“The ANS chapter at Illinois is exceptionally active among the student chapters in the United States this year,” said NPRE Assistant Prof. Katy Huff, faculty advisor to the student group. “This was reflected particularly in their civic involvement at the Illinois state level. When nuclear plants in Illinois were at risk, the students joined their fellow citizens, the NPRE Department, labor unions, and our state lawmakers in fighting for Illinois to recognize the value of those plants. Their passion and public action in support of the The Future Energy Jobs Bill (SB 2814) was energizing and surely contributed to a brighter future for the at-risk nuclear power plants in Illinois.
“Furthermore, the attendance and performance of the UIUC ANS student chapter at the Pittsburgh student conference was unmatched by their peers,” Huff continued. “This academic year, these students never allowed an opportunity for professional development or nuclear advocacy to pass them by. They have made efforts to expand their already lengthy agenda of activities, hosted events, and outreach at every turn. This year, NPRE students traveled to the Clinton Nuclear Power Station, Argonne National Laboratory's Advanced Reactor Summit, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory for technical depth, as well as two trips to Chicago for civic engagement on behalf of nuclear energy.”