June 26, 2023
By Chloe Arrington
George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering alumnus Peter Newby, B.S. NE 1994, M.S. NE 1997, has a long history with Georgia Tech. From student to research engineer, to serving as a member of the Nuclear and Radiological Engineering and Medical Physics (NREMP) Advisory Board, his experiences as a Yellow Jacket have shaped his life and career in nuclear engineering.
Newby’s interest in nuclear engineering was born when he first saw blue Cherenkov radiation from a research reactor during a middle school field trip to Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
“I knew then I wanted to pursue a nuclear engineering degree, and I wanted to attend a university with a research reactor on campus,” said Newby.
At the time, Georgia Tech had the Neely Nuclear Research Center, which housed both a 5 MW research reactor and a hot cell.
“Those facilities really attracted my attention. The presence of state-of-the-art facilities is a major attraction for potential students and researchers,” he added.
Once enrolled at Georgia Tech, Newby was taught by a number of nuclear engineering faculty who inspired him during his academic journey. Georgia Power Company Distinguished Professor Farzad Rahnema taught his first reactor physics class, Professor C.-K. Chris Wang served as his advisor for a special undergraduate project, and Professor Emeritus Nolan E. Hertel educated him on statistical analysis and the application of Monte Carlo methods.
Newby also explored electives and he credits an astrophysics course, taught by Professor Emeritus Don S. Harmer, as the class that combined his curiosity and interest in astronomy with nuclear physics and Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity.
Outside of the classroom, Newby was actively involved in several extracurricular activities.
“I am an unabashed nuclear geek,” Newby said. “The student section of the American Nuclear Society was important to me. We had many good outings and field trips including a visit to TVA’s Bellefonte reactor and the Savannah River Site. I was also a writer for the Technique and the Blueprint, which were great escapes from the day-to-day engineering rigor.”
These activities helped Newby branch out from the ‘daily academic drudgery’ as he described it and helped him blow off steam and commiserate with those who understood the difficulty of being a Tech student.
“Georgia Tech is one of the hardest things you’ll ever love. We grow the most when challenged, and Tech will challenge everyone. Persistence is key,” he said.
His persistence paid off and Newby graduated from Georgia Tech with the personal and professional skills that have led to a successful career.
Newby started his career journey as a research engineer at Tech. Three years later, he joined the company Framatome, a nuclear steam supply system (NSSS) designer and manufacturer, where he served as a leader in sales and marketing for over two decades, combining his skills in science and business (Newby also earned his MBA in 2002 from Averett University). In May, Newby was named president of MS Technology, Inc., an engineering and technology development small business located in Tennessee.
“Georgia Tech provided so much more than an education to prepare me for a career. It instilled thought processes and a questioning, can-do attitude that helps in everyday life,” said Newby.
Newby is still heavily involved with Georgia Tech and Woodruff School, serving on advisory boards for nearly a decade.
“I value the avenue to provide feedback to the Institute and the Woodruff School on what the nuclear energy industry needs are, both today and in the future,” he said. “Being part of an advisory board opens the window to a better understanding of how an academic institution functions, and I have a sense of pride in giving back to my alma mater.”