OSU Pioneer of Nuclear Engineering Dies


CORVALLIS, Ore. – Chih H. Wang, the founder and long-time director of Oregon State University’s Radiation Center and its Department of Nuclear Engineering, died in early December. He was 89.

Wang, a nuclear chemist and OSU alumnus, recognized in the early 1960s the growth of the nuclear field and the need for universities to begin preparing students in this emerging area of study. He developed plans for a facility that would allow multiple applications of radiation and radioactive materials in teaching and research. Wang also obtained the necessary funding from the National Science Foundation, the Atomic Energy Commission, and the State of Oregon to build the new TRIGA nuclear reactor that was finished in 1967. He served as director of the Radiation Center at OSU from 1962 until his retirement in 1984.

Wang also established the Department of Nuclear Engineering in the College of Engineering at OSU in 1972, was an active participant at the state and national level in nuclear issues, and served on numerous committees and advisory boards.

A native of China, Wang received his doctoral degree from OSU in 1950.

Wang wrote two textbooks, contributed to eight other books, and authored more than 125 technical papers and journal articles. He was recognized as a fellow by the American Institute of Chemists, the American Nuclear Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The Department of Nuclear Engineering at OSU has now expanded to 11 faculty members, more than 200 students, and is ranked among the top 10 graduate programs in the nation in nuclear engineering.