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Nuclear Energy Pioneer Inducted Into IHOF

José Reyes Helped Launch First Small Modular Reactor

By A. James Clark School of Engineering Staff

Kim Building on UMD Campus

Nuclear energy pioneer José Reyes M.S. '84, Ph.D. '86 was honored last week in a ceremony to induct him into the University of Maryland Hall of Fame.

Kim Building photo by Emma Howells; Reyes photo by Greg Fiume

A University of Maryland alum who has made pioneering advances in nuclear power was inducted into the University of Maryland’s Innovation Hall of Fame (IHOF) last week.

José Reyes M.S. '84, Ph.D. '86, co-founder and chief technology officer of NuScale Power received the annual honor for his work in co-designing the first small modular reactor (SMR) to garner Nuclear Regulatory Commission design approval.

UMD President Darryll J. Pines presented Reyes with a medallion, and Maryland Engineering’s dean, Samuel Graham, Jr., delivered remarks at the Dec. 2 ceremony held before an in-person and virtual audience.

An overview of IHOF’s history was provided by Scott Berman, whose father—UMD engineering alum Stanford W. Berman ’50—first proposed the idea, and whose family has supported it through an endowment. Nathan Bluzer, chair of the selection committee and the 1995 IHOF inductee for pioneering work in the development of advanced microelectronic devices, then introduced Reyes.

José Reyes M.S. '84, Ph.D. '86

In his acceptance address, Reyes said the initial impetus for his work on SMRs came as he attended an International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in Vienna, while on sabbatical as an Oregon State University professor.

“I met with delegates from different member states, and kept hearing that ‘we really need nuclear power in our country, but we can’t afford a 1000-megawatt nuclear plant and don’t have the grid to support one of that size,'" Reyes said.

Nuclear power, he said, can meet needs that go well beyond electrical power production.

“About 5.9 billion people live in energy poverty,” Reyes said. “About 800 million people don’t have access to clean water. Air pollution contributes to five-and-a-half million deaths globally each year. More than 1 billion tons of food are being lost or wasted due to lack of refrigeration—just not having the power to get it from farm to market.

“Those are the challenges. Not only do we have to meet these challenges, but we have to do so using carbon-free energy.”

Launched in 1987, IHOF recognizes world-changing innovations achieved by UMD alums, faculty and members of the UMD community. Past recipients have included Glenn Martin ’51 (posthumously inducted in 1987), George J. Laurer ’51, Angel P. Bezos ’69, Emilio A. Fernandez ’69 and Robert E. Fischell ’54, Sc.D. (honorary) ’96.

The illustrious lineup bears testimony to UMD’s role in advancing technologies that range from UPC codes to artery stents, Graham said during his remarks.

“When the world demands engineering leadership, it comes to Maryland,” Graham said.

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