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Big data applied to nuclear engineering

December 11 and 12 nuclear energy experts gathered to learn and share ideas at the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering’s Big Data for Nuclear Power Plants Workshop, hosted in Columbus, Ohio by the department’s Nuclear Engineering Program. Attendees included affiliates from industry, government and academia.

Workshop attendees during opening remarksThis second installment of the workshop built on outcomes of the 2017 offering, which identified the significant potential that big data technologies present for optimization of maintenance and component inventory in power plants. The focus of 2018’s workshop was to determine a broader array of roles and value of big data analytics in nuclear power systems.

The two-day gathering of 50 attendees featured industry-led panel discussions, break out discussions and presentations by researchers from industry, government and academia.

Event co-organizer and director of the Nuclear Engineering Program, Carol Smidts, described the conference’s objective. “Big data is being generated rapidly and we aim to collaboratively investigate how nuclear power plants can best utilize and benefit from the wide range of available data.”

“We’re very excited to help the nuclear power industry achieve the significant cost savings that can come from using data to automate work activities at nuclear power plants,” said Ahmad Al Rashdan, PhD, from Idaho National Laboratory, who also served as an event co-organizer.

The workshop provided opportunity for discussionsChristopher Stewart, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, along with Ohio State Translational Data Analytics Institute Managing Director Cathie Smith, PhD, PHP, provided the conference keynote address. Their talk showcased the synergistic big data work happening in the institute.

TDAI brings together Ohio State faculty and students with industry and community partners to create data science and analytics solutions for global problems, develop a diverse and inclusive workforce, and advance scholarship.

“The information shared by our keynote speakers was very timely,” said event co-organizer Assistant Professor Marat Khafizov.

“Ohio State is at the forefront of using data science and analytics to realize solutions for global problems. Nuclear science and engineering can greatly benefit from data mining, which can be used to enhance security, among other applications.”

Panel discussions and breakout sessions highlighted related industry needs, as well as methods and applications of big data to nuclear power plants.

Next year’s workshop will focus on furthering the investigation of big data and how it can be applied to various segments of nuclear science and engineering. Visit for more information.