ESP Biography



PATRICK WHITE, Addressing the political problems of nuclear power




Major: Nuclear Science and Engineering

College/Employer: MIT

Year of Graduation: G

Picture of Patrick White

Brief Biographical Sketch:

Patrick is a fourth-year PhD student in the Nuclear Science and Engineering department at MIT. Patrick’s research focuses on the licensing and safety of advanced nuclear energy systems. He was an author of the 2017 MIT study on the "Future of Nuclear Energy in a Carbon Constrained World". His current doctoral work is on licensing tools and regulatory pathways for commercial fusion power plants.

Before coming to MIT in 2015, Patrick received his B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and spent 3 years working in the commercial nuclear industry.

Outside of his research, Patrick loves to cook (and eat) and is always looking for new ingredients to cook with or new techniques to try.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


Everything you want to know about nuclear power in Spark 2019 (Mar. 16 - 17, 2019)
Have you wondered how a nuclear power plant differs from other energy sources? Do you want to find out if nuclear fuel actually glow green like it does in TV shows and movies? How do we even split atoms in first place if they’re too small to see? In this class, we'll talk about how we can make electricity by splitting atoms (fission) and how we’re trying to make electricity from forcing them together (fusion). We will cover how current nuclear power plants work and what future nuclear power plants that use fission or fusion energy may look like. We’ll also discuss how nuclear power could help fight climate change and how we continue to address the risks associated with fission power plants.


Everything you want to know about nuclear weapons in Splash 2018 (Nov. 17 - 18, 2018)
Do you want to know how to build a nuclear bomb? Are you curious why centrifuges are so important in international diplomacy? Did you know that a single nuclear weapon can explode with the same energy as all explosives used in World War 2 combined? Why should we care about countries getting nuclear weapons, anyways? In this course, we'll review the history of nuclear weapons, talk about the art and science of designing them, and see what the effects these weapons have had on the world. We'll also cover the current state of nuclear weapons and what you should know about modern scientific and political discussions about them. By the end of this class you'll know how to design a nuclear weapon but also understand the human risks and costs.