Director’s Message

The Center is a premier university-based research and professional organization that has an active research program to assist with enhancing the safety of nuclear facilities and also with reducing the cost of building new ones. We are excited about our recent growth and the new initiatives. The interdisciplinary nature of the Center continues to increase through active participation of faculty from Nuclear, Civil, and Construction Engineering disciplines. We are also collaborating with faculty in Computer Science and Mechanical Engineering disciplines.

Our team continues to develop sophisticated engineering tools that can result in substantial savings over the lifetime of an existing plant. This is achieved by reducing uncertainty, enhancing safety, and eliminating unnecessary conservatism. Research at the Center has evolved over the years from deterministic mechanics oriented projects to data-driven Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) strategies for design optimization, construction, and operation of advanced reactors. Our group is the first in ARPA-E’s nuclear energy program to work on this challenging project. It builds upon our unique strengths in thermal hydraulics, decision sciences, structural mechanics, and algorithm development. This work advances our prior experience in developing a probabilistic framework for verification and validation of simulation codes. We have developed probabilistic risk-informed approaches that integrate the knowledge gained from sensor data, mechanistic formulations, and computational modeling. In addition to traditional single hazard based safety assessments, we are exploring new frontiers in the areas of multi-hazard risk assessments and beyond design basis evaluations.

Our faculty in Construction Engineering area are leading unique projects to manage cost escalations and schedule delays. We are participating in Versatile Test Reactor (VTR) team as well as in another ARPA-E project to develop a holistic approach to design and construction by integrating Building Information Modeling (BIM) with design tools. Our peers believe that we are the leaders in developing a data-driven virtual environment for construction performance monitoring and supply chain management. This project is utilizing the power of visual sensing, laser scanning, and unmanned autonomous vehicles (UAV) for virtually managing quality by mapping as-built and as-planned 3D stochastic models.

In many cases, research conducted at the Center is directly applicable to nonstructural systems in infrastructure facilities like hospitals, data centers, fossil fuel based power plants, high tech manufacturing facilities, office buildings, and educational facilities. We are proud to be affiliated with seismic design of electrical substations that supply power to San Francisco International Airport and Disneyland in California.

We hosted the highly successful 25th international conference on Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology (SMiRT 25) that was held in August 2019 in Charlotte, NC. We continue to play a proactive role in providing opportunities for education, training, and professional development. Such opportunities have included graduate level courses offered through NC State’s highly reputed Engineering Online program, short courses on different topics, technology transfer to the industry, and conference organization. We are proud to have a very strong group of graduate students and postdoctoral fellows who continue to work closely with our industry sponsors, win awards through excellence in research, and mentor undergraduate students.

We believe that sophisticated engineering tools, based on sound physics, mechanics, material, and computational principles in both deterministic and risk-informed environments, need not be complicated or cumbersome. Often, the more sophisticated the technology, the simpler and more elegant are the solutions. Such simple solutions can be very useful to advance the state of the art as well as state of the practice. We invite you to join us in this exciting endeavor and look forward to hearing from you.