Mines News

Release Date Friday, April 28, 2017

SD Mines Student Awarded Boren Fellowship for National Security, Focused on Korean Language, Reducing North Korean Nuclear Threat

SD Mines physics doctoral student Tyler Borgwardt has been awarded a Boren Fellowship to study in South Korea for the 2017-2018 academic year.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (April 28, 2017) –  South Dakota School of Mines & Technology physics doctoral student Tyler Borgwardt has been awarded a Boren Fellowship to study in South Korea for the 2017-2018 academic year.  Borgwardt’s background is in nuclear physics and forensics, focused on attributing sources to nuclear weapons materials.  For his fellowship, he will study the Korean language at Sogang University in Seoul and then at Jeju National University in Jeju City in order to better tailor his nuclear expertise to the Korean Peninsula, with a future career focused on the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and the security of the South Korean military’s cyber command.

“The Boren Fellowship will give me an opportunity, that otherwise would have been difficult, to work in a capacity to serve my country, while also helping with global security. It will allow me to develop a unique combination of skills that will be useful for helping with one of the largest nuclear threats in the world today,” Borgwardt said.

“The Korean Peninsula is an integral region for U.S. and global security. The nuclear ambitions of North Korea are currently one of the most consequential and unpredictable issues in the world,” Borgwardt noted. “In addition, North Korea has some of the best, well-organized hackers as evidenced by the hacks on Sony and many South Korean entities, including its military’s cyber command,” he added. Nuclear proliferation and cybersecurity are two of the most critical security issues facing the U.S. today.

“This is a great honor for Tyler and a tremendous opportunity to broaden his education by studying abroad,” said SD Mines President Heather Wilson.

In exchange for his funding, Borgwardt must work in federal service for at least one year following his fellowship. He hopes to pursue a position as a science, technology, and weapons analyst at the CIA.  “North Korea is actively pursuing more advanced nuclear capabilities and poses a threat to the rest of the world. Understanding the language, region and culture, in addition to the science of nuclear weapons, would be a valuable combination of skills to assess capabilities and offer solutions,” said Borgwardt.

As part of his doctoral research at Mines, Borgwardt helped construct and test the Compact Accelerator System Performing Astrophysical Research (CASPAR) accelerator system, the first underground accelerator in the United States, housed at the Sanford Underground Research Laboratory.  His doctoral dissertation project will include running the first experiment ever in the lab. The CASPAR experiment was constructed in an effort to understand the origins of the universe by mimicking nuclear fusion in stars.

Borgwardt earned his master’s in applied nuclear physics from Mines in 2014, working on a project applying Photon Activation Analysis to paleontology and archeology, which correlates trace element concentrations in fossils and surrounding rocks to the original location where the fossil was formed. This research is critical as many fossils have been separated from their original locations, and understanding these trace elements can give ecological clues about the living animal prior to death and fossilization.

Sponsored by the National Security Education Program, Boren Fellowships provide students with the resources and encouragement to acquire language skills and experience in countries critical to the future security and stability of the United States.  Out of 340 graduate student applicants, 114 Boren Fellowships were awarded this year.

This year’s Boren Fellows will live in 44 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Central and Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America and the Middle East. They will study 36 different languages including Arabic, Mandarin, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, Swahili and Korean.

Since 1994, over 6,000 students have received Boren awards. Boren Fellows represent a vital pool of highly motivated individuals who wish to work in the federal national security arena, and program alumni are contributing to critical missions of agencies throughout the federal government.


About South Dakota Mines  

Founded in 1885, South Dakota Mines is one of the nation’s leading engineering, science and technology universities. South Dakota Mines offers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees and a best-in-class education at an affordable price. The university enrolls 2,493 students with an average class size of 24. The South Dakota Mines placement rate for graduates is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of more than $70,036. For these reasons  South Dakota Mines is ranked among the best engineering schools in the country for return on investment. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on FacebookTwitter, LinkedInInstagram, and Snapchat.

Contact: Dani Mason, (605) 394-2554, Dani.Mason@sdsmt.edu

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