After the award ceremony for the presenters and engineering challenge, after the speech by Mr. Luis Reyes, the Chief Operating Officer of the NRC, and after a fine Texas dinner of steak and potatoes, the American Nuclear Society Student Conference concluded with one last group event – the party.
Luminant, the company that recently purchased TXU, and the owner of the Commanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant sponsored a two band shindig at a local bar named The Salty Dog. As often happens, the crowd was a bit tentative at first, but when the second band took the stage, all hesitancy was gone. The Spasmatics were the perfect group for the crowd, looking like something straight out of “Revenge of the Nerds.” They played a great set of rock music familiar to my “child of the 1970s” ears – standards like “I like Rock and Roll” and “Whip it” and engaged in some amusing crowd interaction. The lead said, “I guess this is the smart people’s party”, told the crowd to scream, and later offered that the crowd was “more fun than that D and B convention we play last week.” The dance floor was packed, there were lots of smiles on, and it was hard to tell that I was in a room where the average SAT test score was probably north of 1400.
It was a great end to a worthwhile investment to meet with more of my fellow nukes. The weekend brought me some new friends, the answers to several technical questions and even a pretty good start at the answer to an important policy question that might have major impacts to the future of Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. I highly recommend active membership in the ANS if you are interested in nuclear technology, and I recommend attending a student conference now and again to charge your enthusiasm batteries if you are already a professional member.
I have some hints for the speech writers for the keynote speakers, however. Take some time to find out the topics that will be covered by some of the other speakers; do not recycle talks that your principal gives to the general public, and stop telling the students that the Renaissance is just around the corner. If someone yells out “Bingo!” during one of the talks that you prepared, you will know that one of the audience members has just filled out a row, column or diagonal on a Renaissance Bingo card filled with trite or repetitive phrases that have been used dozens of times before in talks to this intellectually curious and demanding crowd.
If you happen to be a student member of the ANS, or in a degree program that qualifies to be a member, you might want to track the announcements for next year’s conference. At the awards ceremony, the President elect of the ANS announced that the University of Florida was the winner of a tight competition to host next year’s conference. Lest any of you wonder why the chapters would compete for the privilege of working long hours for several months in advance plus putting up with all of the headaches of running a three day event for more than 500 people, it seems that the host gets to keep part of the funds raised by the event. This year, the total take before expenses was more than $200,000.