Reactor Training Becomes a No-Credit Course

By Vincent Tanforan

On September 11, Reed’s reactor training program was granted approval by the Committee on Academic Policy and Planning for entry as an official course. This marks a major change for the Reed Research Reactor, which, in addition to functioning as the only reactor operated mainly by undergraduates, educates Reed students about nuclear science and reactor operations through its training program.

In previous years, the training program would run for eight weeks at the beginning of the fall semester until 15 students were hired. From there, the hired students would continue their training in preparation for reactor operator licensing. Those students who did not get hired had the option to continue attending lectures and labs but were free to quit.

This year, the training program staff is debuting a new format with a seminar course available for freshmen and sophomores to take. This will be separate from an optional training component, which completes additional training with the intention of getting hired to work at the reactor.

The course is listed as “CHEM 010: Reactor Training,” and will be registered on SOLAR like any other class at Reed. The class will be graded on a Credit/No Credit basis, but will not be credit-bearing. It will not be able to fulfill group or departmental requirements, so it will function more like a P.E. class than a typical academic course. 

Students in the reactor seminar have a weekly lecture to attend, reading, and homework assignments — in addition to labs and further tests in the training component necessary to get hired — all in addition to their other classes. Training supervisor Laura Smith claims this change is an important step forward to recognize the work that students put into the course. “We want to encourage people to keep coming back because, even if they’re not hired, they can actually get credit for all the work they put in,” said Smith. 

Hope Palmer, the course’s other supervisor, spoke of their hopes to expand the scope of the reactor program in the future. “Not only do we want to have a higher amount of freshmen and sophomores in the class, but we hope in coming years that upperclassmen can join the seminar portion too and we can just teach Reed students in general about nuclear science,” Palmer explained. 

While it’s too late to join the course now, the training supervisors encourage Reedies to reach out to the reactor staff to learn more about the program and reach out for research. For Fall 2024, returning students will be able to sign up for CHEM 010 during the SOLAR registration period at the same time as their other classes.

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