Nuclear Energy Advocate Award recipients

The INL team that assembled and tested the Curiosity Rover's power source (replica, far left) earned a Nuclear Energy Advocate Award. Accepting for the team were, from left, Eric Clarke, Carl Friesen, Kemal Pasamehmetoglu, Stephen Johnson, Darrell Wheeler, Kelly Lively, Jon Bradley and SueAnn Keller.

National laboratory leaders lauded with Energy Advocate Awards

By Teri Ehresman, INL Communications & Governmental Affairs

Teams with ties to universities and Mars — as well as regional and international experts sharing a goal to advocate for energy — have once again been recognized for their exceptional efforts.

The Partnership for Science & Technology's Energy Advocate Awards honor outstanding efforts to advance energy awareness.

Partnership for Science and Technology (PST), a nonprofit organization advocating for advancement of science, energy and technology, organized the awards program to honor outstanding efforts in advancing energy awareness. The Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society (IANS) co-sponsored the dinner and program Feb. 13 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Idaho Falls.

Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman served as master of ceremonies for this important event. "Wherever I go, I am always proud to proclaim Idaho Falls as one of the energy leaders in the state, and the nation as well," he said. "What INL has done, and what our universities and businesses have done on energy issues, makes us all proud."

The award winners were nominated by PST members as a way to recognize extra efforts being made to advocate for energy.

National Advocacy Award
Known internationally for his nuclear and energy expertise, Laboratory Director and Retired Vice Admiral John Grossenbacher was honored with the National Energy Advocate Award.

"As INL evolves into the national nuclear energy laboratory, he has brought the focus of researchers working to secure the nation's critical computer networks and prevent cyberthreats from affecting the power grid, water treatment facilities, and chemical plants," said Ann Rydalch, former Idaho state senator, in presenting the award.

"National security research is important, but INL's real objective is to become the national nuclear laboratory, and John has been a leader in doing this," she said. "He leads INL to scientifically validate technology while being mindful of the importance of policy, regulations, and economics in order to bring together world-leading capabilities of our Idaho National Lab."

Nuclear Advocacy Award
The Mars Science Laboratory landed on Mars on Aug. 5, 2012, and has captured the nation's attention with continuous headlines as the Curiosity rover explores the red planet.  The rover is powered by a nuclear heat and power source painstakingly assembled and extensively tested by a team from INL before heading to Mars. The team consisted of about 70 people with five selected to accept the team Nuclear Energy Advocate Award.

Stephen Johnson, director of INL's Space Nuclear Systems and Technology Division, accepts the Nuclear Energy Advocate Award for the Mars Science Laboratory team.
Honored for the team's work were Stephen Johnson, Kelly Lively, Eric Clarke, Darrell Wheeler and Amy Powell.

The power system provides about 110 watts of electricity and can run continuously for many years. The nuclear powered rover can go farther, travel to more places, last longer, and power and heat a larger and more capable payload compared to the solar power alternative NASA studied.

The INL team began assembling the mission's power source in 2008, and it was stored in Idaho until the summer of 2011, when it was shipped to Kennedy Space Center. The rocket launched on schedule, two days after Thanksgiving, and after eight-plus years of working on this effort, a perfect launch signaled the completion of the project. The landing on Mars in August 2012 was also perfect — again thanks in part to the team from Idaho.

Regional Advocacy Award
Jeff Sayer, Idaho Commerce Department director and chairman of the Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission, was selected as recipient of the Regional Energy Advocate Award.  

Sayer brought together key leadership into the LINE task force from across the state, laid out his goals and objectives, and organized quickly to ensure Idaho Gov. Butch Otter would get the end product he wanted: a set of recommendations as to how the state of Idaho would advance the nuclear energy industry in Idaho.

In presenting the award to Sayer, Amy Lientz, INL director of Communications and Governmental Affairs, noted Sayer's excitement for INL which helped fill a void at a very crucial time — a time when other states are vying to be the leader in nuclear energy research and to promote themselves as the place to implement recommendations found in the Blue Ribbon Commission report.

"Jeff ensured leadership in Washington, D.C., understood that the state of Idaho was committed to INL's future, and would be there to fight for maintaining and growing its role in nuclear research and development," Lientz said.

Teri Ehresman recognizes the Nuclear Energy Advocate Award winners, with PST President Mike Hart, standing left, and Idaho Falls Mayor Jared Fuhriman, standing center.

Local Advocacy Award
David Hill, Ph.D., who recently retired as INL deputy laboratory director for Science and Technology, was honored with the local Energy Advocate Award for his impact in promoting energy.

Hill has authored or co-authored nearly 100 significant papers, publications, journal articles and reports during his career. He was nominated by Idaho American Nuclear Society (IANS) in part because he is always willing to take the time to share his knowledge and expertise with others. He has been a keynote speaker at many local, regional, national and international programs.

"Even though he is retired, he will still be the general chair for the upcoming International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Conference GLOBAL 2013 this fall in Salt Lake City," said Teri Ehresman, past IANS chair, in honoring Hill.

Education Advocacy Awards
The Energy Systems Technology and Education Center (ESTEC) team was honored as the Energy Education Advocate Award for an institution. The team, which came together in 2006, was formed to create what is now a nationally recognized and innovative energy education program. The Center is housed under the umbrella of the College of Technology on the Idaho State University campus in Pocatello. This education program is unique because of the public/private partnership with energy industry, higher education and a community-based organization.

In presenting the award, Jackie Flowers, former PST chair and general manager of Idaho Falls Power, said over the past few years, various power companies and utilities have donated equipment to ESTEC that enables students to work on the exact equipment they will use during their careers. This equipment is both old and new, which accurately reflects what students will see in the workplace. "Not only does ESTEC look and feel like the real deal, but students learn and follow industry standards when it comes to procedures, especially safety," she said in honoring the team.

More than 120 people attended the 2012 Energy Advocate Awards dinner and program at the Idaho Falls Hilton Garden Inn.
Representing the operating partners in accepting the award were: Scott Rasmussen and Lawrence Beatty with ISU, Richard Holman from INL and Jessica Sotelo with Partners for Prosperity. ISU delivers ESTEC's educational programs and manages the day-to-day affairs.

Akira Tokuhiro, Ph.D., University of Idaho's Nuclear Engineering program director, earned the Energy Education Advocate Award for an individual. He works for UI at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) at INL. His name and face became visible around the state after the Japan earthquake and resulting Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant issues nearly two years ago. Since that time, he has been interviewed scores of times, and quoted in news publications around the world for insight into the accident and resulting consequences. His seminar course on Fukushima has been one of the most popular University of Idaho courses over the last two semesters.

This was the fifth year the award has been presented. Previous INL award winners include: Stephen Herring, David Petti and Kathryn McCarthy (Nuclear Energy Advocate Award); Harold Blackman (Energy Education Advocate); and Ehresman (Local Energy Advocate).

(Posted Feb. 19, 2013)

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