When the nuclear disaster unfolded this spring in Japan, Sara Ferry had a better understanding of the situation than most college seniors. Thanks to the MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), she spent last summer working on commissioning tests for a new nuclear reactor in Finland, receiving hands-on experience rare for an undergraduate.
"I got a chance to see what goes into putting a reactor online," said Ferry, who worked in Paris as an intern at Areva, the nuclear energy company building the Finnish plant. "When you go to commission the safety of a plant, you consider events you never expect to happen."
A nuclear science and engineering major, Ferry said that while Japan faced "the worst possible chain of events," she hopes that there isn't a huge backlash against nuclear energy. "If we want to have power at the levels that we do, we really don't have a choice."
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Feature written by Kathryn O'Neill for Spring 2011 issue of Spectrum. Photo of Sarah Ferry by Len Rubenstein.