Libraries exhibit honors nuclear facility's six decades of education, research

July 08, 2015

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It’s common knowledge for Penn Staters that the University is a global leader in science, technology and engineering; historical markers across the University Park campus, and others, indicate where Penn State students, faculty, staff and alumni have made great leaps forward in innovation. What many don’t realize is that Penn State also is home to the longest-running university nuclear reactor in America.

“Penn State Power: 60 Years of the Radiation Science and Engineering Center” — on display July 8-Aug. 19 in Sidewater Commons in Pattee and Paterno Libraries — honors the center’s longstanding reputation for nuclear energy education, research and service.

The Radiation Science and Engineering Center (RSEC) includes the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, celebrating its 60th year of continuous operation. Built as part of the “Atoms for Peace” program — whose mission was to explore peaceful uses for atomic energy — the reactor was licensed and began operation in July 1955. It supports research across a variety of academic departments, project collaborations with related institutions around the world, plus training for future generations of scientists and public education about nuclear energy applications.

The RSEC represents a broad range of interests and a mission that includes safety, education, research and service — many characteristics shared by the University Libraries. This exhibit, which includes original images and historical source materials provided by RSEC staff, celebrates this common tradition by explaining the how the library supports RSEC research and showing how library patrons can use library resources to learn more about the RSEC.

For more on the RSEC, including inquiries about group tours and other activities, visit

  • Kenan Unlu at reactor

    Kenan Unlu, director of the Radiation Science and Engineering Center and professor of nuclear engineering, above the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor's glowing blue core.

    IMAGE: Kenan Unlu
  • blue and white vertical logo for Breazeale Nuclear Reactor 60th anniversary, 1955-2015
    IMAGE: Penn State
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Last Updated August 26, 2015