U-M graduate J. Robert Beyster (BSE EngM EngP ’45, MS LSA Phys ’47, PhD ’50) has made a major gift to the U-M College of Engineering. Beyster’s gift of $15 million will benefit U-M students for decades to come in the form of updated facilities as well as fellowships and other academic support. Pending regental approval, $5 million of this gift will be used to convert the former Ford Nuclear Reactor building to new nuclear engineering laboratories. This gift will support much needed laboratory space to accommodate recently-hired NERS faculty and significant increases in homeland security and nuclear safety research.
Beyster was the founder of Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Early in his career, he performed many pioneering measurements of neutron cross-sections that facilitated the development of nuclear power at Westinghouse, Los Alamos National Lab and General Atomics. “The fields of energy and defense were greatly advanced under Beyster’s leadership of the thousands of dedicated scientists and engineers at his company, SAIC. He is also known as a visionary who spearheaded the use of particle accelerators in nuclear measurements and engineering,” said Ronald Gilgenbach, chair of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences and Chihiro Kikuchi Collegiate Professor. “So it is fitting that his gift will help construct the world’s premier nuclear measurements laboratory.”
At SAIC Beyster also led the development of the VACIS portable homeland security system that utilizes high-energy gamma ray imaging for inspection of cargo containers and vehicles.
Reconstruction of the former nuclear reactor building will provide a unique NERS facility for accelerator-based, active-interrogation by gamma-rays and neutrons. Laboratories will also be constructed for research on imaging, spectroscopic radiation detectors and thermal hydraulics experiments related to nuclear reactor safety. Numerous NERS faculty members, research scientists and students will be provided with state-of-the-art laboratories and office space in this newly renovated, 4-story laboratory complex.
Eleanor Shelton contributed this story.