U.S. Department of Energy

10/20/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 10/20/2021 12:41

Engineer at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Honored for Public Outreach

CARLSBAD, N.M.- An employee with a company that supports EM 's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) has received the American Nuclear Society's (ANS) 2021 Landis Public Communication and Education Award.

Josh Vajda, an advisory engineer with Regulatory Environmental Services (RES), was honored for exemplary outreach efforts, domestically and internationally, to increase public understanding of nuclear careers and to promote the importance of professional licensure.

During his seven years with RES, Vajda has completed a doctorate degree in engineering management, obtained a Master of Science degree in materials science and engineering, and maintained professional certifications in nuclear engineering and health physics.

Vajda obtained his doctorate and master's degrees through an education assistance and reimbursement program through Nuclear Waste Partnership (NWP), WIPP's management and operations contractor. RES is a NWP subcontractor.

"Please join me in celebrating this recognition and congratulating Josh on receiving this prestigious award," RES manager Rick Chavez said. "And thanks to NWP President Sean Dunagan for the continued support through the NWP educational assistance program which has benefitted Josh and, recently, two other RES employees."

RES operates WIPP's regulatory compliance program. Vajda has helped prepare, review, and implement regulatory documentation while working at WIPP.

Vajda has been an ANS member since 2010, and in 2015 he became a member of the society's Carlsbad chapter. Vajda has conducted educational outreach at local high schools, supported the annual ANS National Student Conference, provided leadership as chair of the ANS Professional Engineering Examination Committee, and promoted development of nuclear power - with an emphasis on the importance of ethics and reactor safety - in the United Arab Emirates.

In 2019, Vajda helped plan a tour of the Urenco National Enrichment Facility in Eunice, New Mexico for members of the public, including local students. Tour participants learned about gas centrifuge technology in the production of nuclear fuel.

The award recognizes an individual for outstanding efforts, dedication, and accomplishment in furthering public education and understanding of the peaceful applications of nuclear technology.

That includes outstanding communication in public venues as well as exceptional work done to inform teachers, students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and other audiences in public education settings about nuclear science and technology applications and nuclear careers. The award is given to an individual who has made a significant impact in public education and communication.

The award includes an engraved plaque and a $1,000 monetary award.

The society's mission is to advance, foster, and spur the development and application of nuclear science, engineering, and technology to benefit society.