Twenty (20) DOE Fellows and graduate students from the Applied Research Center (ARC) at Florida International University (FIU) had the opportunity to meet industry leaders at the 2015 Waste Management Symposia in Phoenix, Arizona, from March 15 through March 19, 2015.
The conference participants include some of the most influential leaders in the field of radioactive waste management, from the public and private sectors in the U.S. as well as internationally. Throughout the conference, DOE Fellows and ARC graduate students had the chance to attend over a hundred technical presentations regarding different aspects of the nuclear waste management industry: innovative technologies, best management practices, current industry trends, challenges, and optimization techniques to name a few. Many of the presentations referred to DOE sites/facilities that the Fellows have experience working with firsthand and could directly relate to the subject matter. This year, the conference sponsored speakers from France to share their knowledge and successful business practices from overseas. Two FIU graduate students presented professional presentations to industry experts: Hansell Gonzalez, on his research pertaining to The Study of Unrefined Humate Solution as a Possible Remediation Method for Groundwater Contamination, and Robert Lapierre on Graduating STEM Students Entering the Workforce.
With over 2,000 attendees, the conference provided an ideal opportunity for networking and career development, especially through the several networking sessions that the conference hosted. The conference also emphasized the involvement of under-represented groups in the industry, for example, by sponsoring a panel discussion on women in STEM related professions.
Among the many distinguished industry leaders that the FIU students met during the conference, they had the chance to take photos with Mr. Mark Whitney, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management and Dr. Monica Regalbuto, Associate Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management.
In addition to the presentations, over 200 companies and organizations participated in an exposition which provided an ideal platform for the students to network and learn about the products and services that the companies had to offer.
FIU DOE Fellows and graduate students also had the opportunity to present a technical poster on their area of applied research and expertise which provided a great chance to get feedback on their work as well as meet professionals conducting similar work in the industry.
FIU is proud to announce that two of its students brought home awards from this year’s symposia. Christine Wipfli won the student poster competition for her research on Sodium Silicate Treatment for Uranium Bearing Groundwater Systems at the F/H Area of the Savannah River Site and Robert Lapierre was awarded the Roy G. Post Foundation Scholarship, an endowment founded to support students pursuing careers in the safe management of nuclear materials.
Outside of conference events, FIU students participated in team building an d leisure activities such as dune bugging, snowboarding, hiking in Sedona, and visiting the Heard Museum. The FIU students had an exceptional time and are already making plans to attend the conference again next year!