U.S. WIN Member Spotlight: Afreen Ali


Auburn University, B.S. in Chemical Engineering & minor in Nuclear Power Generation Systems


Commercial Engineer, Americas Outage & Maintenance Services at Westinghouse Electric Company

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

During my undergrad, I was encouraged heavily to get an internship or a co-op. When exploring the companies that would attend the Auburn University Engineering career fair, I found that only companies powering the energy sector piqued my interest. I simply wanted to produce electricity–I found that fascinating. I interned for a natural gas power plant before doing an internship with the renewables branch of that company. In the small amount of time I spent in the energy sector, I learned about nuclear power, toured an under-construction nuclear power plant, and spoke to nuclear professionals about the industry. 

The ethos of the industry sunk its teeth into me and rightfully so–nuclear power is the only source of commercial energy that is both incredibly energy dense and carbon emission free. That is music to the ears of an environmentally sound engineer. It almost seemed like the perfect solution to the engineering challenge of powering today’s civilization with minimal detrimental effects to our glorious planet. 

I started my career in nuclear decommissioning by cutting up a once commercially operational pressurized water reactor before safely characterizing, transporting, and storing the low-level radioactive waste from it. I transitioned into my current role after 18 months, where I get a much larger view on the American commercial nuclear industry. I have been at Westinghouse for a little under a year now. I plan on spending my entire career in the American nuclear power industry and am thrilled to see where it goes in the next 5, 10, and 20 years.

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

The social energy of U.S. WIN is very palpable and can be felt through the conversations about it. I had met a leader of U.S. WIN through my job, and the way this organization was marketed to me by an executive of it made me want to join my company chapter and see what it was all about. After I did, I realized she was absolutely telling the truth. The professional development, solidarity, sisterhood, and operational experience a member receives by being a part of U.S. WIN is irreplicable anywhere else. I joined the organization to meet smart, strong, dedicated, and passionate women who share the same interests I do – a love of nuclear energy and womanhood. There is so much to be learned from and shared with these women that goes far beyond our professions.

What is your favorite aspect of U.S. WIN?

Personally, I do my best work socially and professionally when surrounded by others. My favorite aspect of U.S. WIN is the annual U.S. WIN Conference where hundreds of nuclear workers gather in one place for a few days and share their experiences, challenges, and unique growth paths. There is a lot of energy exchanged at these conferences that members can carry with them as they go back to their respective companies and jobs. If I were to imagine it was tangible, I would say that the energy I gain from the U.S. WIN Conference is kept in a bucket that I dip into to on tough days. It is extremely helpful.

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

Clean, energy-dense, and affordable electricity for our thriving communities is the most important impact of nuclear energy! The amount of electricity that just one enriched uranium fuel pellet produces is equal to the electricity produced from 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas, 120 gal of crude oil, or one ton of coal. This energy is generated while producing no carbon dioxide emissions, which is a true natural phenomenon and should be used to the greatest extent possible.