Douglas Smiley’s innovation saves university nearly $800,000
As a university well known for its research programs, Virginia Tech employs hundreds of staff members who support the faculty’s efforts on a daily basis.
Assistant director of radiation safety Doug Smiley is one of those people. In his current position in the university’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety, Smiley manages a wide array of programs, projects, and compliance initiatives.
Smiley, who has worked at the university 35 years, is one of nine Virginia Tech employees nominated in 2015 to represent the university in the statewide Governor’s Award program. He was nominated in the innovation category. The winners were announced last month.
His work supporting research activities and keeping the campus safe led to an $800,000 savings in 2014. When tasked with disposing of a high-level radioactive material used in the College of Veterinary Medicine’s Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Smiley made it his job to find an economical alternative to paying a commercial facility to dispose of the material.
For nine months he worked to get the radioactive material registered with the Off-Site Source Recovery Project, a U.S. government activity sponsored by the National Nuclear Security Administration's Office of Global Material Security.
As part of the effort, Smiley advocated for the Off-Site Source Recovery Program to create a pilot program for colleges and universities across the nation with efforts to dispose of radioactive material and ensured that Virginia Tech became the first university to participate.
Other colleges and universities who join the pilot program will also benefit from the cost savings. Perhaps even more importantly, colleges and universities across the nation now have an additional option to keep the community safe by properly disposing of excess, unwanted, abandoned, or orphan radioactive sealed sources that would otherwise pose a potential risk to health, safety, and national security.
“With the removal of this highly radioactive material, Virginia Tech is no longer viewed as a potential national nuclear security risk,” said Lance Franklin, director of environmental health and safety. “The campus is not only much safer from an environmental health perceptive, but also from a public safety perceptive.”
Dedicated to its motto, Ut Prosim (That I May Serve), Virginia Tech takes a hands-on, engaging approach to education, preparing scholars to be leaders in their fields and communities. As the commonwealth’s most comprehensive university and its leading research institution, Virginia Tech offers 240 undergraduate and graduate degree programs to more than 31,000 students and manages a research portfolio of $513 million. The university fulfills its land-grant mission of transforming knowledge to practice through technological leadership and by fueling economic growth and job creation locally, regionally, and across Virginia.