Olumuyiwa Omotowa — Idaho Falls-based doctoral candidate — earns an invitation to the elite World Nuclear University Summer Institute held at Oxford University.
With engineering degrees earned in Nigeria and the United Kingdom, one wouldn’t think Idaho to be a likely next stop. Unless, that is, that engineer is looking for one of the best nuclear engineering programs in the world.
“I applied to three universities with nuclear engineering programs in the United States,” says Olumuyiwa Omotowa, a first-year doctoral candidate in nuclear engineering at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies in Idaho Falls. “I chose Idaho because, in partnership with the Idaho National Laboratory, it is the best place to research future technologies for the nuclear industry.”
Now, only a few weeks into his second semester and in the midst of researching ways to improve thermal-hydraulic systems in nuclear reactors, he will return to England.
But only for six weeks.
Omotowa has received one of the highest honors that can be bestowed upon a nuclear engineering student — he's been accepted to attend the World Nuclear University Sumer Institute at Oxford University. The international event, now in its sixth year, brings together the brightest minds and biggest leaders from global organizations, inter-governmental agencies and leading institutions of higher learning in the nuclear industry.
Every year the summer program invites only about 100 students from up to 40 countries to attend. Historically, only a few students from a given country are selected each year, according to Akira Tokuhiro, professor of mechanical engineering and Omotowa’s mentor. In such a competitive field, Omotowa may be the first student from the University of Idaho selected to attend the program. He is certainly the first to attend from the Center for Advanced Energy Studies.
“I told Olu to apply, but I thought he had only about a one percent chance of being selected,” says Tokuhiro. “His selection is a big deal. I think the organizers of the summer institute like the direction that he’s going.”
With another two years left in his doctoral program, Omotowa dreams of working in the nuclear industry for a few years before bringing his knowledge — and nuclear power — to his home country of Nigeria. His attendance at the summer institute would be a major step forward in achieving these goals.
Aside from the wealth of knowledge and information available, the experience also offers a unique opportunity for networking in the global nuclear community.
“Touring nuclear facilities, working within groups, developing new skills and expanding my international network will all be very good for me,” says Omotowa. “The whole idea is to develop myself.”