TerraPower

Critical Mass: A Conversation with Lindsey Boles

In physics, a “critical mass” is the amount of fissile material needed to start a nuclear chain reaction. At TerraPower, we like to think of ‘critical mass’ in a different sense as well: our relatively small group of pioneers together form a force to change the world. How? This series highlights TerraPower employees who are working to bring about world-changing innovations.


Lindsey Boles, a chemical engineer by training and a nuclear systems test engineer at TerraPower, joined TerraPower’s team in June 2016. She spends most of her time in design qualification and testing, and is the lead on TerraPower’s thermal hydraulic testing.

On how she came to TerraPower:

I worked as a nuclear engineer for the Department of Defense (DOD). I worked on aircraft carriers and reactor safety was my responsibility when the carriers were in port. I think it took a total of two years for me to be brought on board. TerraPower wants to be sure to hire the right person for the right job so it took time to match me with the right job.

On how she joined the nuclear industry:

Coming out of college, I wasn’t excited by the options in the chemical industry, my initial field. My best friend’s dad, a nuclear shift test engineer, started telling me about nuclear. I didn’t know much about it – all I knew was that it existed and the basic physics of it – but something about nuclear power intrigued me. So, I went for it!

On her motivation:

I feel advanced nuclear power is the technology of the future. Forty years ago, my dad took a chance and joined Intel when it was starting, because he wanted to be part of the future. I really respect him for that decision. Hopefully, my work will have the same kind of impact.

On her greatest accomplishment:

Earning my nuclear engineer qualification. When I started with the DOD, they put me through the two-year Prospective Nuclear Engineering Officer Qualification. I went blindly into a pretty complicated field, and there were times while trying to memorize 1,200 pages of material that I regretted my decision. But, the knowledge, personal and career growth I received from that program led me to where I am today.

On the best part of her job:

I have never been in an atmosphere that is so welcoming. Everyone wants to make everyone else better. I feel like the collaborative culture at TerraPower promotes critical problem solving. It makes coming to work really rewarding: not only can you solve problems that you couldn’t solve yourself, you can help others attain their goals. I think it’s a pretty unique culture to TerraPower.

We all also really, truly believe in what TerraPower’s trying to do: take a look at what’s happening to our environment and find ways to fix it with technology, in hopes that we not only reduce pollutants, but also make the world a better place. We innovate for those who can’t. It makes work a lot easier when you can put your heart into it as well as your mind.


Interested in joining TerraPower’s team and changing the world? Visit http://terrapower.com/pages/careers to see our list of open positions and apply.