History of NESD

The Nuclear Engineering Student Delegation (NESD) is an independently organized program to allow students studying nuclear science and engineering to acquire hands-on experience with the political process to learn how they can positively impact the future of nuclear energy, policy, education, and research. The Delegation was formed in 1994 in response to eliminating the nuclear research reactor program funding in the FY 1995 budget. Funding was reinstated as a direct result of students’ interactions with lawmakers. Owning to the success of the first endeavor, return trips have been organized every year since.

Since the founding of the Delegation, there have been over 180 delegates from 34 of the nation’s most prestigious universities. Over the years, these delegates have met with many senators, representatives, the Secretary of Energy, the Advisor to the President on Science and Technology Policy, several Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners, staff from the Senate and House Energy Committees, presidents and CEOs of companies, and other industry leaders and policymakers.

Each year the Delegation convenes in Washington and formulates a set of policy statements that convey their views on nuclear energy, education, and research. Then, for the following three days, they meet with experts across D.C. who can provide the latest updates on nuclear policy before the Delegation meets with their senators and representatives at the end of the week. Because not all of the policymakers and staff on Capitol Hill do not have a technical background, it is important that the members of the Delegation inform them of how students across the nation feel on relevant issues.

2023 Chair

Kaylee Cunningham, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


2023 Co-Vice Chairs

Emma Houston, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Hannah Patenaude, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


Get in Touch

For questions about NESD, please contact the current leadership at nesd.chairs@gmail.com