[M.S.N.E. 1987, Ph.D. NE 1991]
Senior Research Scientist
Fusion Energy Division
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Ever since high school, I had always regarded Georgia Tech as the top engineering school in the South but for financial reasons chose to attend Virginia Tech. After graduating from Virginia Tech and deciding that being a Nuclear Engineer wasn't my cup of tea, I worked for a few years as a Computer Programmer at the University of North Carolina. One of the perks of this position was access to the university library. Because of my interest in fusion energy development, I checked out a few books on fusion energy, which happened to be written by a professor at Georgia Tech, Dr. W.M. Stacey. When I read Dr. Stacey's books and then found out that Georgia Tech offered a fusion engineering and plasma physics program, I immediately applied for the graduate program and was fortunate enough to be selected for admission.
My graduate experience at Georgia Tech has served as the underpinning for all that I have accomplished in my career. The fusion energy curriculum provided me with a quality education in both plasma physics and fusion engineering. This broad education provided me with a perspective on fusion energy development that is distinct from others who have attended universities that have either a physics or engineering based curriculum. This broader perspective has served me well through the years, allowing me to discern subtle details from truly "show-stopping" ones. In addition, the research opportunities made available to me through first the Graduate Research Assistant position and then through my PhD. thesis research were of high caliber, putting me in day-to-day contact with the research staff at Oak Ridge National Lab (ORNL). I eventually ended up spending 2 years at ORNL performing my thesis research on a large fusion project. This eventually led to a Post Doctoral fellowship with ORNL and then a research staff position. Without the original research project through Georgia Tech, I doubt if any of this would have been possible.
I believe the major strengths of the graduate program at Georgia Tech are the faculty and the commitment of the university and the Woodruff School to a quality education for each student. The ongoing research program administered by the faculty at Georgia Tech is impressive, allowing the graduate student a wide range of choices in choosing a research topic. Many of these research programs are with national labs or industry, providing opportunities for the student to work closely with experts in specific areas.
I believe that the quality of Woodruff School's graduate programs, faculty, and facilities are top notch and highly regarded within industry and the national lab system. From a personal perspective, of the students that were in fusion energy graduate program when I attended Georgia Tech, four are still in the fusion energy field with three of those individuals leading research projects in the U.S., Germany, and Korea. This points to another strength in the Georgia Tech graduate program: the diversity of its students. The range of nationalities and cultures represented by the student body provide a unique opportunity for a student to learn about other cultures and global issues directly.