AFIT student wins Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D award> Maxwell Air Force Base> Display


First Lieutenant Ashwin Rao, a PhD student in nuclear engineering in the Graduate School of Engineering and Management at the Air Force Institute of Technology, recently received the Innovations in Nuclear Technology R&D Award sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the Office of Nuclear Fuel and Supply Chain.

“I am extremely touched and honored to accept this award for my newspaper article. This is the latest of many great opportunities that have been offered to me during my nuclear engineering graduate program at AFIT, ”said Rao.

The Journal of Analytical Atomic Spectrometry published its award-winning research article, “Comparison of Machine Learning Techniques to Optimize the Analysis of Plutonium Surrogate Material via a Portable LIBS Device,” in January 2021. The Rao award was announced on July 30, 2021.

“I am delighted to hear the good news of this prestigious federal award awarded to Lieutenant Ashwin Rao. When our students do what they do best, our external stakeholders take positive note, ”said Dr Adedeji Badiru, Dean of the Graduate School of Engineering and Management. “This extremely competitive price shows that AFIT is always at the forefront of innovation. It is even more rewarding when the innovation work is oriented towards R&D in nuclear technology.

The awards program is aimed at university students, and in 2021 the Department of Energy awarded 22 awards for student publications related to innovative nuclear technology. Rao’s post was judged in the Competition category for university students with less than $ 600 million in R&D spending in 2019.

Rao’s doctoral director Dr Anil Patnaik explained that Rao has developed a new method to quickly measure trace elements in plutonium alloys using machine learning to improve the measurement accuracy of a portable device from laser induced breakdown spectroscopy.

“This research is of crucial importance to increase the rate of production of plutonium components to ensure the necessary capacity of the US nuclear infrastructure in the future,” said Patnaik.

A press release from the trustees of the award says that in order to be successful and maintain its leadership role in nuclear technologies, the United States must encourage creativity and breakthrough achievements to develop the nuclear technologies of tomorrow. The Department of Energy has long recognized that university students are an important source of breakthrough solutions and a key component in achieving its long-term goals. To this end, the department has developed the reward program for research and development of innovations in nuclear technology.

“I am grateful to the dedicated members of my doctoral committee who supported my research efforts and helped me take my publications to the field. I am also grateful for the support of my department, as well as for the efforts of my collaborators at the Los Alamos National Laboratory who made this project possible, ”said Rao.

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