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AF Nuclear Tech, Program Seeks Applicants (Mar. 22)



WASHINGTON -- The Air Force Nuclear Technology Fellowship Program is seeking applications from officers and Air Force civilians who want to join an elite group of people responsible for the care and feeding of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Maj. Gen. Judd Blaisdell, the director of the Air Force's Nuclear and Counterproliferation Directorate, said the NTFP is a great opportunity and urges interested people from all career fields to apply.

"As long as there are nukes in the world, we're going to have a need for nuclear expertise and nuclear programs," Blaisdell said. "It's what we call full-spectrum deterrence.

"Here's an excellent opportunity in partnership with the Air Force Institute of Technology and Sandia National Laboratories to put people in a program that will give them an insider's view of nuclear weapon design, engineering and effects," he said. "They'll get a chance to not only learn about our nation's nuclear program but will get hands-on experience in the lab and with agencies such as the Defense Threat Reduction Agency and Air Force Safety Center."

Blaisdell said that it is helpful if an applicant has a technical degree, but it is not mandatory, and NTFP participants can be from nearly any Air Force career field.

Following completion of the two-year fellowship, participants will be assigned to a tour where they will use their newly gained nuclear knowledge and experience. By adding just three courses to what they get in the NTFP, participants can earn a master's degree in explosive engineering from New Mexico State University.

Blaisdell said it is important to understand that this program is not intended to produce nuclear engineers or nuclear physicists to work in national labs -- AFIT meets that need.

The NTFP is designed to equip graduates with firsthand experience and knowledge that they can apply when they return to their functional communities.

"We need this kind of expertise -- not just in the lab, but in the field as well," Blaisdell said. "So we put people in this program and put them back out in the field in major commands and at the office of the secretary of defense and the JCS so they have a working knowledge. It's very healthy."

"We need to have people who understand operations, maintenance, acquisitions and security," he said. "We need people who can take the nuclear knowledge gained and put it to practice in the field. That has great synergy to it."

Blaisdell said the program is great for the Air Force and its people, and it will be a challenge people will enjoy and never forget.

"The academics will be in areas they probably haven't been in before which should be interesting," Blaisdell said. "They're going to get to go to lots of different places that most people don't get to see, so that's exciting. They'll work on projects with people who have been in the nuclear business for a long time, some at the very foundation of where we started doing nuclear business. It's a great opportunity and they'll be the experts in the years ahead. We need people who understand the business."

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Nuclear Technology Fellowship Program Seeks Applicants