John Englert

Virginia, USA

Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear non-proliferation, Science






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Contributor Since 14 August 2020

I am a DoD civilian and retired U.S. Air Force retired officer. My experience centers around the fields of science, technology, engineering and acquisition. The majority of my career has been spent in the nuclear field, ranging from countering WMD, treaty monitoring and nuclear weapons. I have worked on cutting edge science bringing new capabilities to our operational forces in areas of meteorological satellite observations, numerical weather prediction, electronic warfare, and space-based nuclear detonation detection.

Mentor Background

What is your area of expertise?

  • Nuclear Weapons
  • Nuclear non-proliferation
  • Science
  • Are you interested in mentoring high school or college students, or both?

  • High School Students
  • College Students
  • How did you become interested in this area?

    My career in the nuclear weapons field didn't really start until I was a captain in the Air Force, but my interest goes back to when I was in sixth grade. That fall the Day After was broadcast on network television. I watched the show and the live discussion session afterward.  There was also this graphic that was published that showed all the explosive energy, equal to about 3 megatons, used during World War II as a single dot the size of a period on a page.  The rest of the page was covered in thousands of same-sized dots that represented the combined nuclear weapons yields of the nuclear powers at the time. 

    What was your career path to get here?

    I applied for graduate school when I was a captain in the Air Force. The assignments officer gave me an option of one of two programs, space systems engineering or physics-nuclear effects.  I asked him which was harder for him to fill, and he said nuclear effects, so I chose that. 

    Why should the public care?

    Nuclear weapons are literally inside all of us. The legacy of atmospheric tests is a distribution of radioactive nuclides across the globe that is still in our water and soil, which eventually makes it into our bodies. 

    What is a current issue or trend that concerns you?

    I worry that the US is losing nuclear expertise and experience in both civilian power and weapons. In particular, the closing of nuclear plants and slow pace of building new ones means that we may be more dependent on fossil fuels for electricity generation going into the future when we should be reducing emissions. 

    Would you be willing to speak to a classroom about your work?


    What themes or topics would you be interested in lecturing or discussing with a class?

    The science of nuclear weapons from production, testing, and planning. 

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