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Gonzalez Leads Bipartisan Bill to Bolster Nuclear Science and Engineering Programs at American Universities

Today U.S. Representatives Anthony Gonzalez (OH-16), Sean Casten (IL-06), Peter Meijer (MI-03), and Bill Foster (IL-11) introduced the National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021, a bill designed to enhance the educational and research capabilities of nuclear science and engineering programs, meet the workforce needs of the U.S. nuclear industry, and accelerate the development of advanced nuclear technologies in the U.S.

“As our country shifts towards a 21st Century grid, nuclear science and engineering programs will play a key role in advancing the next generation of reactors and developing a diverse workforce to operate them,” said Rep. Gonzalez. “I am excited to introduce this bipartisan bill that will support our young scientists and engineers, advance the research and development of advanced nuclear technologies, and restore U.S. leadership in nuclear energy.”

“Nuclear science and engineering is vital to our country, and is important for both energy and medical needs,” Rep. Casten said. “I am proud to support a bipartisan bill that will create opportunities for a new generation of nuclear engineers and scientists while diversifying our nuclear workforce.”

“Nuclear energy plays a critical role in our energy future and must be a component of any discussion surrounding how we respond to climate change,” said Rep. Meijer. “It is imperative that we invest in and empower the best and brightest of the next generation to ensure we have a workforce that is equipped to lead the world in the nuclear industry. I am proud to join this bipartisan effort.”

“Scientific research and development offers one of the highest return-on-investments our nation can get,” said Rep. Foster. “Advanced nuclear energy has the potential to be a key tool in meeting the country’s decarbonization and net-zero clean energy goals, and it is critical to ensure that our universities have the research infrastructure support to be able to investigate these technologies fully.”

“Upgrading research reactors, enhancing engineering facilities, and establishing university consortiums will greatly enhance our nation’s nuclear science and engineering capabilities. The Ohio State University operates the only research reactor in the state of Ohio, and this bill will help us expand our research capabilities to meet the demands of advanced nuclear energy systems and support the workforce needs critical to maintaining U.S. leadership in nuclear science and engineering. I thank the Congressman for his leadership on this critically important issue.”- Raymond Cao Director of the Nuclear Engineering Program and Nuclear Reactor Laboratory The Ohio State University

“The Nuclear Engineering Department Heads Organization (NEDHO) and The National Organization of Test, Research, and Training Reactors (TRTR) strongly support the introduction of H.R. 4819 – the National Nuclear University Research Infrastructure Reinvestment Act of 2021. At a time when a next generation of nuclear energy is needed to meet the nation's clean energy and jobs goals, revitalizing the nation's university-based research and educational infrastructure is critical to deploying advanced nuclear technology, advancing the probability of deployment, and attracting the nation's best minds.”- Todd Allen
Glenn F. and Gladys H. Knoll Department Chair of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences

“The Nuclear Innovation Alliance is excited to support the proposed National Nuclear University Research Reinvestment Act. Our universities are the foundation of American leadership in technology and innovation, and the proposed legislation would build on that legacy. This bill would not only strengthen institutional capabilities.  It would also invest in a new generation of nuclear energy researchers from diverse backgrounds, unleashing a new wave of nuclear innovation.”- Judi Greenwald Executive Director Nuclear Innovation Alliance

Background

The bill would revitalize America’s nuclear science and engineering programs by providing universities the resources to upgrade their existing infrastructure and establish regional or sub regional consortia that promote collaboration with industry and Department of Energy (DOE) national labs.

It would also require DOE to stand up a program that establishes no more than four new major nuclear science and engineering facilities at U.S. universities. These facilities would focus their efforts on demonstrating various advanced and micronuclear reactor concepts, medical isotope production reactors, and other critical research infrastructure.

To attract and educate a more diverse workforce, the facilities would be set up in a partnership framework between the host university and collaborating universities – including historically black colleges and universities, minority serving institutions, and community colleges.

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