Robert L. Long

For his record of outstanding professional achievement and internationally recognized role in nuclear engineering research, teaching, academic administration, and industrial leadership, the Schools of Engineering are proud to present the Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award to Robert L. Long.

Vice President and Director
Corporate Services and TMI-2 Division, GPU Nuclear Corporation
MSNE '59, PhD '62

Long bust

On being a student

While I was on campus, I was already married. Some of our fondest memories of Purdue were of football and basketball games. We never missed either one-we sat through snowstorms, and we went early to get seats for basketball games at the old fieldhouse.

My second year at Purdue, I became a teaching assistant under Professor Bob Eaton. He was the finest teacher I've ever known, and he was the kind of engineering teacher I wanted to be. He had practiced engineering in the industrial world off and on, and he brought that experience into the classroom.

On his professional career and accomplishments

My educational experience at Purdue gave me a broad base of engineering science background. That experience was especially valuable for me because I've felt comfortable tackling anything thrown at me. I never felt like a narrowly educated person.

I think the biggest accomplishment in my academic career was when as department chairman, I was able get our chemical engineering undergraduate program accredited by ABET. It was the first time this had happened at New Mexico.

I joined GPU thinking I'd be the head of a small technical group and do mostly technical work. Of course I didn't anticipate the Three Mile Island accident. I quickly became a senior management representative and acting vice president. My most significant work involved getting permission to restart TMI-1, the undamaged reactor.


As a young professor I had actually set a goal of becoming president of the American Nuclear Society. When I switched to the utility career, I lost sight of that goal, because very few utility officers had become president of ANS. When I was finally approached, it blew me away.

Young Long at the radio

For the nuclear industry as a whole, a huge challenge is to continue to operate plants safely and economically. Operation and maintenance costs have increased dramatically the past decade. We must operate safely in a cost-effective way, or else we won't be building any more nuclear power plants.

On education

I was always a lab-oriented teacher, who was interested in applications of science and math to solving engineering problems. As I visit schools today, I find that lab experiences are too few and rarely designed well. There continues to be a need for education to include hands-on engineering lab experiences. We need engineers who are not just good at math, chemistry, and physics but who can design things that meet the needs of people.

Graduates coming from engineering schools today also have to recognize they are competing in a world environment. Engineering has become a worldwide practice, and we have to help students recognize that. In my corporation, we have companies from all over the world selling us service, and we sell to them.


Appointed director of GPU Nuclear Corporation's Three Mile Island-2 Division. Managed final preparation of TMI-2 for Post Defueling Monitored Storage.
President of American Nuclear Society.
Appointed vice president and director of Planning and Safety Division at GPU.
Elected vice president and director of Nuclear Assurance Division at GPU. Played major support role in restart of TMI-1 unit.
Became director of training and education at GPU Nuclear Corporation. Responsible for five training departments.
Served as member of TMI-2 Recovery Team. Organized Data Reduction and Management Group, headed Accident Assessment Documentation Team, and supervised Technical Planning Group. Named director of reliability engineering at GPU.
Appointed manager of generation productivity at GPU Service Corporation.
Served on University of New Mexico faculty as professor, assistant dean of engineering, and chairman of Department of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering. Supervised design, development, and on-campus installation of fossil power plant simulator.
Supervised design, construction, and start-up of Fast Burst Reactor Facility at White Sands Missile Range.

BSEE '58, Bucknell University; MSNE '59, PhD '62, Purdue. (Received first PhD in nuclear engineering granted by Purdue.)