At the helm of a nuclear reactor in Prague, Sami Shihadeh BA/MANPTS ’22 knew his moment had arrived. The nonproliferation and terrorism studies (NPTS) graduate had waited patiently as pandemic lockdowns prevented in-person travel, but as soon as things opened back up, he pounced.
Working with the Institute’s Office of Experiential Learning and Study Abroad, Shihadeh applied for an International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) practicum with the nuclear research reactor at Czech Technical University in Prague—a highly sought-after internship that numerous Middlebury Institute students have completed in the past.
“The first day I walked into the office, I just felt this is what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” says Shihadeh.
While Shihadeh was a policy student rather than an engineer, he says the experience was foundational, and a great complement to his coursework as he embarks on his nonproliferation career.
Running experiments on the nuclear research reactor helped him better understand how nuclear reactors work. He also learned a great deal about nuclear safety, security, and safeguards.
“I was confident because of all the training, all the skills and learning I had at MIIS, but it was an eye-opening experience!” says Shihadeh. “I learned a lot of things that I did not know about, and it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m very grateful.”