"Mr. Magnet" and the communications and outreach coordinator at the Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) have been honored for their enthusiastic efforts to introduce nuclear fusion to children and the general public. The awards, for "outstanding services to the cause of fusion," were conferred by Stephen Dean of Fusion Power Associates at a June 27 ceremony also attended by a representative from the U.S. Department of Energy.
For more than a decade, Paul Thomas, a PSFC technical supervisor better known as "Mr. Magnet," has "dedicated himself to a major program of outreach to young people," according to one nominator. "This program has received local and national acclaim as a model program for bringing the excitement of science to the minds and the hearts of young people."
Paul Rivenberg, the PSFC's communications and educational outreach coordinator, is "a leader in educational outreach activities within the fusion energy sciences program in the United States," wrote another nominator. For example, in 1998 Rivenberg served as chair of the Outreach Committee at the meeting of the American Physical Society's Division of Plasma Physics. "This event drew over 1,000 students and teachers from the local community in New Orleans. It generated a sense of excitement about science in the many student visitors and was highly publicized in the local press," the nominator wrote.
Michael Roberts of the Department of Energy's Office of Fusion Energy Sciences in Washington flew to MIT to attend the award ceremony. "He represents DOE's strong interest in educational outreach activities," said Richard J. Temkin, associate director of the PSFC.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on July 17, 2002.