Dr. Norman C. Rasmussen

Dr. Norm Rasmussen

Norm Rasmussen was born November 12, 1927 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and was brought up on a dairy farm near Hershey. Norm's early life was greatly influenced by the value his mother's and grandmother's place on education. He attended Gettysburg College, graduating with a B.A. degree in 1950. He then pursued a graduate degree at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and received a Ph.D. degree in 1956.

Following graduation, Dr. Rasmussen was given an Instructor position in the Department of Physics and has remained at MIT ever since. He served in various capacities at MIT, including the Head of the Department of Nuclear Engineering from 1975-81 and is currently Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Rasmussen's early career included the study of the interaction of radiation with matter and he contributed to the database of nuclear cross-sections and reactor analysis. In the 1970's, the United States Atomic Energy Commission appointed Dr. Rasmussen to head a project to examine nuclear reactor safety. The task for Dr. Rasmussen was to replace the AEC's "maximum credible accident" approach to safety analysis.

The solution that Dr. Rasmussen developed to address safety analysis was Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA). PRA revolutionized not only safety analysis, but, also quantified, for the first time, accident risk. "The Rasmussen Report" was published by the AEC in 1974 as WASH-1400. It provided the intellectual foundation for a rational look at reactor safety and it continues to influence the development and debate of nuclear power.

He has serve a variety of government and industrial committees overseeing policy and research in the nuclear industry. For his service and contributions Dr. Rasmussen has received numerous honors and awards including the Enrico Fermi Award from the U. S. Department of Energy and Distinguish Acheivement awards from the American Nuclear Society, the Nuclear Regulatory Commisssion, the Health Physic Society, and the Society for Risk Analysis.

[Paraphrased from material provided by the Department of Nuclear Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology]