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Application-based Learning, a Nuclear Experimental Laboratory in a Field Environment

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Nuclear and Radiological Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Nuclear and Radiological

Page Count


Page Numbers

26.225.1 - 26.225.5



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Paper Authors


Robert Prins United States Military Academy

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Lieutenant Colonel Robert Prins is an assistant professor in the United States Military Academy Department of Physics and Nuclear Engineering. LTC Prins teaches both Radiation Shielding and Instrumentation and Radiological Safety. LTC Prins' role in the Army is that of a Nuclear Medical Science Officer.

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Bryndol A. Sones United States Military Academy

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Colonel Bryndol Sones directs the Nuclear Engineering Program at West Point. He has a Ph.D. in Nuclear Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a MS in Atomic Physics from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Daniel Schlich U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

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2LT Daniel Schlich is a recent graduate of the United States Military Academy as a Nuclear Engineering major. 2LT Schlich is a commissioned officer in the United States Corps of Engineers.

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Application-based learning, a nuclear experimental laboratory in a field environmentAbstract:Undergraduate Nuclear Engineering education at our institution is a blend of fundamentalengineering concepts in nuclear power, nuclear weapon effects, and medical physics. Blendingthese concepts is straightforward in a didactic environment but applying the concepts to longterm application can be difficult in practice. We develop long term applications via day trips(nuclear power reactors and hospitals), guest lecturers, and now most recently field-typeenvironments. Our graduates are expected to be leaders of character while also integrating theirexperiences and knowledge as a flexible and adaptable leader in austere operationalenvironments where hands-on experience is both warranted and encouraged. The most commonway for undergraduates to gain hands-on experience is through a pristine laboratory setting. Ourfield-type laboratory environment has been designed to not only stress the limits of a student’sknowledge in terms of identification, characterization, and scientific articulation ofradioisotopes. Based in a military operation in urban terrain environment, students are dividedinto teams of six to search for hidden radioisotopes and then further expound upon the findingsand possible safety remediation efforts. The laboratory has been extremely successful and hasprovided the students with a perfect blend of realistic training and nuclear engineering detectionexperience. This paper describes the laboratory event, places it in context with prior and futurelearning in the program, and presents data documenting educational gains.

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