Member Spotlight: Grace Stanke

  • Education/Certifications:

Currently going into senior year pursuing a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Employment:

Miss Wisconsin 2022! Formerly I was a co-op at Constellation.

  • Why did you choose the nuclear field or how did you end up in the nuclear field?

I wish I had an inspirational story, but what it really was is it started out as nuclear engineering just sounded really cool. When I was applying to colleges, UW-Madison had a nuclear program so I thought hey, why not apply and see what it’s like. While that’s what started me out in the field, what really ignited my passion for nuclear was when I realized nuclear exists all around us. I was able to work in a lab hands-on, which then lead to my co-op with Constellation. My experience in the field has taught me how important nuclear energy is, and how necessary it is for our society.

  • What advice do you have for women in the nuclear field?

Always stay strong and stand up for yourself. It’s also okay to have multiple aspects in your life – nuclear can be one of them! Multiple aspects are what make a good engineer.

  • What do you think is the most important benefit of nuclear science, technology, or energy and why?

The ability to change lives. Not just on a daily basis of creating power, or curing cancer, but changing society as a whole. Without energy and technology, we would not be where we are today. Nuclear science is at the core of almost every other science, so it’s time society embraces that and lets nuclear science be explored properly, with the corresponding funding.

  • Is there something about your job that most people are surprised to hear?

Miss Wisconsin 2022 is a full-time paid job – I go on to compete for Miss America, which is actually a salaried job! It’s an exciting position to be an advocate for nuclear energy.

Member Spotlight – Amy Hill

Education/Certifications:

B.S. Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University, 2013

Licensed Professional Engineer in North Carolina

 

Employment:

Duke Energy – McGuire Nuclear Station: Senior Reactor Operator Initial License Candidate (2020 – Present)

Duke Energy – Corporate: Nuclear Fuels Engineer (2014 – 2020)

 

Why did you choose the nuclear field or how did you end up in the nuclear field?

When I was 14 I went to a summer camp at Purdue University where I had the opportunity to take a quantum physics class (it was simplified a little for the age level).  Part of the curriculum was to tour the university’s particle accelerator and nuclear reactor.  The particle accelerator was big and orange and exciting, and everyone was wearing lab coats and talking to us about the work they were doing… then we got to the nuclear reactor.  Purdue’s reactor (PUR-1) is in a basement and very little about its exterior is flashy or exciting.  The other students were bored and falling asleep while the basics of nuclear energy were explained, but I was absolutely enthralled.  I called my parents later and declared I wanted to be a nuclear engineer.  They weren’t too inclined to believe me since I’d also recently decided I wanted to be a dolphin trainer after changing my mind about wanting to be an orthodontist.  But here I am, 17 years later with a degree in nuclear engineering and pursuing my Senior Reactor Operator license.  I fell in love with the concept of nuclear energy and the massive amounts of clean power it could generate, and I’ve been hooked on the field ever since.

 

What advice do you have for women in the nuclear field?

You have every right to your seat at the table!  So many studies have shown how diverse perspectives lead to better outcomes, so don’t be afraid to speak up even if you’re the only one with a different opinion.

 

Why did you join U.S. Women in Nuclear?

I was introduced to U.S. WIN while I was interning for Duke Energy.  I attended my first national conference as a student a few years later, and the empowerment I felt during those three days listening to what women from all over the industry had accomplished made me really value the organization.  I realized how important it is to build your network with people who can relate to you and may have gone through similar situations.  I certainly would not be where I am today without my involvement in U.S. WIN.

 

What do you think is the most important benefit of nuclear science, technology, or energy and why?

I think the most important benefit of nuclear energy is that it’s clean baseload generation.  It’s a great building block for other clean energy technologies to grow from.  We have the technology now, so we can power our communities as newer battery, solar, and wind technologies continue to develop.  Nuclear fits right in to a diversified clean energy strategy.