It takes a lot of energy to be Jackie Young, which is a good thing because energy just happens to be Young’s specialty.
When the nuclear engineering major at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, wasn’t in class or the library, or playing her clarinet in the Pride of the Southland Marching Band, she was planning science bowls and community service events.
As president of the UT Student Chapter of the American Nuclear Society, Young’s hard work and dedication prompted membership to skyrocket 50 percent compared to the previous year. Her enthusiasm and leadership inspired fellow students to reach out into the community in the form of fundraisers and events to motivate children to follow in their footsteps.
“Our major outreach event was the Science Night for elementary school children. We went to six different elementary schools in the area and taught the children science experiments,” Young said. “We also tried to promote nuclear science and technology and encourage them to like math and science. Hopefully they will remember their science night and dream to be engineers like us.”
As a youngster in Memphis, Young always gravitated towards mathematics and science. But it wasn’t until she came to UT Knoxville that she discovered her innate passion for nuclear engineering. She remembers when Professor Lee Dodds, head of the nuclear engineering department, came to speak to her engineering fundamentals class. Instantly, she was hooked.
“There are so many reasons to become a nuclear engineer– interesting work, many job opportunities, a way to make a difference for the world’s energy needs,” Young said. “Also, I knew that being so close to Oak Ridge would bring extra opportunities for my nuclear experience, and I would learn so much from professional nuclear engineers and scientists.”
UT Knoxville’s guiding light did not stop there. In addition to giving her a strong foundation in general engineering, UT Knoxville’s Career Services helped Young land her first summer internship at Dominion Virginia Power in Richmond, Va. That summer internship has now turned into her first real job out of college as a nuclear core design engineer in Dominion’s Nuclear Analysis and Fuels Department.
“Being a nuclear engineering student at the UT Knoxville was awesome,” Young said. “The faculty and staff are very helpful, supportive and knowledgeable. Studies were challenging and unlike any other major on campus. I had a graduating class of about 40 students, which meant we were all very close.”
While Young is extremely excited to embark on her new career and “get paid to do what she loves,” she will miss her fellow engineering students, friends and life in Big Orange country.
“I will miss the atmosphere of being a Tennessee Volunteer on game days. I have a lot of great memories from college.”