Nuclear Energy Pioneer José Reyes Inducted Into IHOF
José Reyes (M.S. Nuclear Engineering '84, Ph.D. Nuclear Engineering '86), co-founder and chief technology officer of NuScale Power, was formally inducted into the University of Maryland’s Innovation Hall of Fame (IHOF) during a ceremony on Thursday (December 2).
The recognition is in honor of his work in co-designing the first Small Modular Reactor (SMR) to receive Nuclear Regulatory Commission design approval.
Reyes received his IHOF medallion and delivered remarks at the ceremony, which took place at the A. James Clark School of Engineering and was also live-streamed for remote viewers. UMD President Darryll J. Pines presented the medallion, and Maryland Engineering’s Dean Samuel Graham, Jr. delivered opening and closing remarks. An overview of IHOF’s history was provided by Scott Berman, whose father—UMD engineering alumnus Stanford W. Berman—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, then introduced Reyes.
Addressing the event, 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 recalled.
“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.'"
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,” he said.
Launched in 1987, IHOF recognizes world-changing innovations achieved by UMD alumni, faculty, and members of the UMD community. Past recipients have included Glenn Martin (posthumously inducted in 1987), George J. Laurer, Angel P. Bezos, Emilio A. Fernandez, and Robert E. Fischell.
The illustrious lineup bears testimony to UMD’s role in advancing technologies that range from UPC codes to artery stents, said Maryland Engineering’s Dean Graham during his remarks.
“When the world demands engineering leadership, it comes to Maryland,” Graham said.
Published December 8, 2021