Distinguished Alumni Awards

William E. Burchill

William E. Burchill
To William E. Burchill, in recognition of his distinguished career in the nuclear engineering industry and education, and for his worldwide representation of the American Nuclear Society in understanding the benefits of nuclear science and technology.

Retired Head, Nuclear Engineering Department, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

  • BS, 1964, Metallurgical Engineering (Nuclear Option), Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy
  • MS, 1965, Nuclear Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • PhD, 1970, Nuclear Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • MS, 1986, Management, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

William E. Burchill has made significant contributions to the advancement of nuclear science and technology in the areas of probabilistic risk assessment and reactor safety. As head of the Texas A&M Nuclear Engineering Department (2003–2007), he successfully expanded the size and impact of that unit. Before that, he worked for 33 years in the nuclear energy industry, producing award-winning work in response to the Three Mile Island accident and culminating in a top management position with Exelon Nuclear, the largest nuclear energy provider in the United States.

The Three Mile Island work led Burchill to become a principal contributor in the development of risk assessment in nuclear power plants—an approach to operations that resulted in a major increase in nuclear plant on-line operational time, from around 65% in the late 1980s to the current levels of around 95%. His work also contributed to a move by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to employ risk-informed assessment in evaluating nuclear plant operations.

A longtime, active alumnus of the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at Illinois, Burchill has provided financial support to the department, including the Bruce Spencer Endowed Fund, which supports an undergraduate scholarship created to honor a fellow alumnus who died prematurely, and the Barclay G. Jones Fellowship, which was fully endowed in 2010. He has been active in the American Nuclear Society for more than 40 years and has served in several top leadership positions including president during 2008-2009. For the past three years, Burchill has been an advocate for the peaceful use of nuclear energy and radiation sciences and has initiated the society’s worldwide “Getting the Word Out” campaign about the benefits of nuclear science, engineering, and technology.

Current as of 2011.