Nuclear Engineering Student to Speak at TEDxOhioStateUniversity

Nuclear Engineering Student to Speak at TEDxOhioStateUniversity

Doug Hardtmayer became fascinated by nuclear energy at a young age. Now he’s sharing his passion as a graduate student, on his own podcast and as a TEDxOhioStateUniversity speaker.

“Ever since I was really little, I’ve always been interested in anything mechanical, and more importantly, how it’s powered,” says Hardtmayer, an Ohio State graduate student. “In trying to figure out how things got their power, I discovered energy and nuclear energy, and that’s what really captivated me.”

He received his undergraduate degree in welding engineering and worked for Worthington Industries and the Idaho National Laboratory before returning to Ohio State to pursue a master’s degree in nuclear engineering.

“The way that nuclear energy works is fundamentally different than a lot of other ways that we get our energy, and the potential for ways we can utilize it is so much bigger than anything else we have on the table,” says Hardtmayer.

He works as a research assistant in the Nuclear Analysis and Radiation Sensing Lab. His current focus is on pyroprocessing, which is a method of recycling nuclear waste.

He is also the producer and host of RadioNuclear, a biweekly podcast that covers a wide range of topics related to the nuclear power industry. He explains that many arguments against nuclear power have been around since the 1960s and haven’t really changed, while in reality, nuclear technology has transformed drastically since then. He created his podcast as a way to challenge these misconceptions and inform the public.

“I wanted a different media for people who are in leadership positions, whether it be in academia, research, industry or advocacy, to have a way of getting their message out there and also relating it to current news and events,” Hardtmayer says.

He says the podcast has been successful thus far, but he hopes it will continue to grow and gain popularity.

Hardtmayer is also one of 13 members of the Ohio State community scheduled to speak at the seventh annual TEDxOhioStateUniversity event this week. The theme is Hide or Seek; speakers and performers will present on topics relating to science, technology, history and life.

“There’s a broad spectrum of people in the audience in terms of backgrounds and what they’re interested in,” he explains, “so trying to make what you’re passionate about relatable to them is pretty challenging.”

Speaking at this event will be different than hosting his podcast and unlike any project he’s taken on before. To prepare, he met with a public speaking coach to develop his talk.

“Naturally, as a scientist, I want to go straight to stats and facts, but that’s not relatable to everybody, so it’s been kind of a challenge to make what I’m talking about intellectually interesting but also relatable for everybody there.”

Hardtmayer is excited to begin working for MPR Associates in Alexandria, Va., after graduation this spring.

“It should be interesting because there’s a lot of diversity in terms of what type of work I’ll be getting,” he says. “I’ll get a new project every three weeks or so.”

The 2018 TEDxOhioStateUniversity will take place from 12 to 4 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Tristen Spahr is a student communications assistant at the Office of Energy and Environment.