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Mechanical Engineering

USNA Students Win ANS Student Conference Awards

Below is a list of research projects that were recently presented at the American Nuclear Society Student Conference:

MIDN 1/C Drew Brenn: Winner of Best Undergraduate Presentation in the Radiation Protection and Shielding technical track

The study measured neutron protection factors for a composite steel, aluminum, and reinforced plastic box using an AN/PDR 70 Remmeter and Californium-252 and Americium Beryllium sources. These are polyenergetic neutron sources whose energies closely resemble those of nuclear weapons and reactors. A windshield material was also added to the surrogate vehicle in order to add better protection from the radiation source. The experiment was recreated in MCNP and a neutron protection factor was determined through modeling. The results were compared in an effort to validate MCNP as a method for determining neutron protection factors.

MIDN 1/C Leslie Ann Alasagas: Winner of Best Presentation in the Accelerator Applications technical track and Best Overall Research Awards

The Naval Academy Tandem Accelerator Laboratory produces beams of atomic nuclei which can be used for nuclear physics or materials science experiments. The USNA tandem historically has been used for proton beams since its inception 28 years ago. This project developed beams of projectiles more massive than helium for the first time and used them for a variety of materials science applications. Significant, ongoing collaborations with the NSWC-Carderock Division include the successful testing of a novel GaN-based fast neutron detector as well as heavy ion implantation into aluminum-magnesium alloys for naval applications.

MIDN Carl McKay:

The project evaluated the feasibility of equipping an Unmanned Underwater Vehicle with a gamma detector or a neutron detector to remotely detect the presence of Special Nuclear Material (SNM) through a seawater environment. Gamma detection was used to generate a "spectral fingerprint" which correlated to the capture gammas released when seawater isotopes absorb neutrons emitted from an SNM source, while neutron detection was used to measure the neutrons emitted directly from the source. These data were then compared to evaluate which method of detection, if either, would be most suitable for use in a maritime application. 

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