Berry alum works as a nuclear engineer

Berry alumnus James Padgett (2018 grad) is working as a nuclear engineer with Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. Last year, James graduated with two degrees from two schools. How? He was a member of Berry’s Dual-Degree Engineering program, which allows students to acquire both a meaningful liberal arts education and a world-class technical education.

Engineering students spend their first three years at Berry, then transfer to an engineering school for two more years to complete their degree. Berry partners with the College of Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering & Engineering Technology at Kennesaw State University. James, who majored in dual-degree engineering and minored in chemistry at Berry, chose to complete his degree at Georgia Tech, where he majored in nuclear and radiological engineering.

James attributes his success in part to two mentors he had at Berry: Mathematics and Computer Science Professor Ron Taylor, and Associate Professor of Chemistry Kenneth Martin. “Ron helped me recognize it’s okay to make mistakes. I honestly don’t think I would have been ready for Georgia Tech without him assuring me it’s okay to not be perfect,” he says.

In Dr. Martin, James found an advisor as well as a friend. He says, “There were some tough times for me at Berry, and Dr. Martin helped me through them. He was very understanding and kept me on track.” James also did chemistry research with Dr. Martin. He held several student work positions in the chemistry department including inventory manager, lead prep for analytical chemistry and safety check for labs.

Much of his experience in student work has carried over into his new position as a nuclear engineer. “My main job is to ensure worker safety when working with nuclear material,” he says. He also writes procedures for refueling aircraft carriers and helps provide solutions when problems arise.

James is grateful for the time he spent at Berry and the opportunities and friends it gave him. “Berry made a big impact on my life,” he says. “It introduced me to my best friends. It helped me find where I stand in my faith. And the professors helped me grow, not just as a student but as a person too. I can honestly say I wouldn’t be who I am today without having met the people there and had the experiences I had.”

Story by sophomore Shannon Rainey

You may also like