While engineers earn plenty of titles and accolades, “The Honorable,” isn’t usually one of them. But Hon. Kristine Svinicki (BSE NE ’88) has earned that distinction by bringing her nuclear engineering chops to the sometimes-contentious field of nuclear safety.
As chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), her depth of understanding of the real and perceived risks of nuclear energy helps to shape U.S. nuclear policy, ensuring that safety concerns are rationally addressed.
While she started out doing technical work at Idaho National Laboratory immediately after earning her degree, she quickly recognized that the work done at the lab was driven by policy decisions. She pursued that avenue, moving on to Capitol Hill to advise U.S. senators on topics such as nuclear energy and national security. She was first appointed to the NRC in 2008 by then-President George W. Bush.
In recognition of her extraordinary achievements and distinction, she is the 2017 recipient of the Michigan Engineering Alumni Medal, the highest award offered by the Michigan Engineering Alumni Board.
“I’m very honored the College would consider a recipient in the policy space rather than someone who took a more technical path,” said Svinicki. “It shows that there are a lot of different visions of the contributions one can make with a valuable engineering degree, and it sends a powerful message to the rising generation.”