National Nuclear Security Administration

Graduate Fellow Feature: Matthew Tweardy

December 19, 2018

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The NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program is a unique opportunity for recent graduates like Matthew Tweardy to join the Nuclear Security Enterprise.
Matthew Tweardy

The NNSA Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) is a unique opportunity for recent graduates to join the Nuclear Security Enterprise. These full-time, salaried positions offer a year of specialized, on-the-job training and the chance to tackle real-world challenges in one of NNSA’s program offices. Fellows develop technical and leadership skills to launch their careers with a full immersion in one of NNSA’s core mission programs.

What is your academic background/field of study?

I graduated from American University with a Bachelor of Arts in international studies and a Bachelor of Science in physics. I then went to the University of Tennessee where I earned a master’s degree and doctorate in nuclear engineering. This combination of technical and policy backgrounds has prepared me very well for work in NNSA, and I have been surprised how many different skills I have used during the fellowship.

What are you currently doing for NNSA?

I currently work in the Domestic Uranium Enrichment Program Office, which is part of Defense Programs. Every day is different. I work on anything from technical analyses of enrichment technologies and nuclear reactors to budget analysis and interfaces with congressional staff. There is a rarely a dull moment and I learn something new each day.

What drew you to the NGFP program?

Early on in graduate school, the program stuck out to me as a great way to springboard my career into nuclear security. I knew several other people who had had great experiences with the fellowship and it was always on my radar. The ability to apply my technical knowledge in a context that can affect real world policy outcomes was extremely attractive to me. It really is a great way to get a foot in the door.

What do you hope to do after the fellowship?

I had hoped that the fellowship would help me figure out what I wanted to focus on for the rest of my career, but that has really backfired. I’ve been exposed to so many new opportunities and career paths that I now have an even harder decision to make. I am considering staying at NNSA headquarters in DC, but also exploring work at one of the DOE or NNSA National Laboratories. I definitely intend to stay within the NNSA complex, though. My time as a fellow has really sold me on the importance of the mission.