Kord Smith

Practice of Nuclear Science and Engineering

A door always open

Professor Kord Smith, in the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering, has fostered an open, encouraging environment with his students. Though at the top of his field and chief scientist for the Center for Exascale Simulation of Advanced Reactors (CESAR), Kord is exceedingly generous with his time and manages to help students of various backgrounds and levels of understanding. He goes so far as to offer Matlab tutorial sessions on weekends—with donuts and coffee—for students that need additional help with the program. According to his nominators, “His door has always been open to students,” even on some Saturdays, when he helped a group of graduate students debug their research code.

In addition to Professor Smith’s commitment to helping his students academically, he takes an interest in their personal development and well-being. Despite the norm of continual research throughout the summer, Kord encourages his students to pursue internships outside of MIT, and he has personally facilitated many of these connections.

He is able to relate to his students’ MIT experiences, having attained his PhD here, and he often shares stories of his own path. Additionally, he plans and organizes retreats for his students, to help them experience a balanced work life. Last year, they flew to Salmon, Idaho where they went rafting in the Snake River and hiking in the Middle Teton.

Kord Smith has made an impact in his field, applying new powerful computation technology to the advancement of reactor engineering and nuclear power generation. He earned his MS (1979) and PhD (1980) from MIT, and has since had a number of successes in the business world. He cofounded Studsvik Scandpower in 1988. The main function of that company is developing mathematical models and computer codes capable of performing steady-state and transient physics analysis, required for core design, fuel management, safety analysis, and NRC licensing of nuclear reactors. He holds the post of Korea Electric Power Company Professor of the Practice of Nuclear Science and Engineering at MIT.

Many graduate student lives have been enriched by Kord Smith’s generosity and commitment to what his nominators call “nourishing students’ intellectual development.”