Students present research at Westinghouse as part of summer program

Ten students from across the country, including two Penn Staters — Nate Michaluk, a dual-major in mechanical and nuclear engineering, and Michael Melnyk, a mechanical engineering major, — presented research reports earlier this month to executives at Westinghouse headquarters in Cranberry Township, Pa.

The presentations were based on summer research projects they conducted as part of the Penn State Toshiba-Westinghouse Undergraduate Fellows Program, a summer research experience for students with an interest in the field of nuclear engineering. Research was conducted under the guidance of a faculty adviser in the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering.

Presenting the results of 10 weeks of research was memorable for the students. Brianna O'Neal, a University of Iowa student, said, "It was truly an honor that [Westinghouse executives] wanted to hear what we worked on in just three short months."

Research projects assigned to the fellows ranged from work on radiation sensors, to coolant flow research, to robotic systems. "The most valuable part of the research experience was being able to reach a conclusion and have the opportunity to tell [my faculty adviser] about what I had discovered," said Michael Saitta, a student at Carnegie Mellon University.

Westinghouse executives who sat in on the technical presentations included Rick Etling, vice president, strategy, and president of the Penn State Nuclear Engineering Society; Carlos Leipner, director of strategy, research and technology; John Goossen, director of nuclear energy innovation leadership; and Joe Zwetolitz, vice president, Americas, and 2011-12 chair of the Penn State Nuclear Power Advisory Board.

"Westinghouse will keep track of the fellowship students' careers and hopefully see a few of them end up as Westinghouse employees," said Etling. "Their work would stand up to any existing research done by established companies and agencies in the industry today."

The Toshiba-Westinghouse Undergraduate Fellows Program was conceived in 2009 to give exceptional students with an interest in nuclear engineering the opportunity to conduct research on Penn State's campus and connect with members of the nuclear industry at Westinghouse. This program and others were made possible through a $2 million gift from Toshiba-Westinghouse.

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Last Updated August 30, 2011