Source: The Oak Ridger | Ben Pounds | October 11, 2018

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Source: The Oak Ridger

More than 100 people showed up for the Millennial Nuclear Caucus at Y-12 National Security Complex’s New Hope Center in Oak Ridge on Friday.

The event hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy brought in many millennials, including students and young professionals. The two keynote speakers were Ed McGinnis, principal assistant secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Nuclear Energy, who was the keynote speaker for the luncheon, and U.S. Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, R-Third District, who was the keynote speaker for the main caucus. Although neither are millennials, they both praised the millennials in their respective audiences.

“I just want to say how important you all are,” McGinnis said. ”(Energy) Secretary (Rick) Perry is passionate, not just about nuclear, but the next generation.”

“This is your time,” he said, speaking about the importance of younger people to “think outside the box” in terms of the technologies available for reactors and their business applications.

He spoke about micro-reactors, 3D printed reactors and reactors with independently operable modules. He compared the potential innovations with reactors to the ones made by the private space flight company SpaceX and the development of smartphones.

Fleischmann, in his speech, said he wanted to “learn about millennials.” There are no official start and end times, but the term millennials generally refers to people born between the early 1980s and early 2000s, according to various internet sources.

Fleischmann is running for re-election to represent the Third District, which includes Oak Ridge, in the general election on Nov. 6. His opponents are Democrat Danielle Michell and independent Rick Tyler.

“I want to talk a little bit about me. I want to talk a lot about you all,” Fleischmann said. “I want to figure out what about what’s driving this generation … I’m confident that your generation is going to lead the nation going forward.”

Fleischmann did not name any of his opponents in his speech or directly tell his audience to vote for him. Still, he stressed his role as an “appropriator,” in charge of designating funds in the U.S. government.

He spoke of his bipartisan work with Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., regarding nuclear cleanup efforts.

“That is so important that we can work together,” he said of nuclear cleanup efforts.

He also said both he and President Donald Trump are committed to “make nuclear strong again.”

Robert Van Hook, former Oak Ridge National Laboratory deputy director, introduced and praised Fleischmann.

“He really preaches about Oak Ridge when he’s in Congress,” said Van Hook, who now works as a management consultant and serves as an East Tennessee Economic Council board member.

Fleischmann took various questions from the audience after his speech.

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