In 1994, a group of nuclear science and engineering students felt that their voices were excluded from important public policy decisions, specifically when nuclear research reactor program funding was eliminated in the FY 1995 budget. They traveled to Washington, D.C., ultimately convincing lawmakers to reverse their decision. The Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation (NESD) is an independent, autonomous, student-led program that has sent nearly 200 students over the last three decades to advocate for nuclear technology and the communities impacted by the industry. Throughout the almost 30-year history of NESD, the delegation has grown exceptionally in legitimacy and participation. The panel will discuss policy statement evolution, evaluating the topics included over the years. This will provide insight into how nuclear policy challenges have changed over time, and the impact the delegation has had on addressing those challenges. Panelists representative of earlier delegations will also have the opportunity to discuss how NESD contributed to their career path within the nuclear industry and how the expanding alumni network has aided their career development. NESD alumni have become scientists, researchers, educators, and policymakers. Several attribute their experience in NESD as a jumping-off point to their career. In this presentation, we will investigate the takeaways from NESD to different career fields. Anecdotally, we will investigate the importance of policy education and exposure to scientific careers.


  • Hannah Patenaude, Moderator (Univ. Nevada, Las Vegas)
  • Craig Piercy (ANS)
  • Evan Gonzalez (LLNL)
  • Anagha Iyengar (DOE/NNSA)
  • Emma Houston (Univ. Tennessee, Knoxville)


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