Jaime Rickert

Jaime Rickert
Photo by Russ Houston

Trained as a chemist, Jaime Rickert has worked for MSU's Institute for Clean Energy Technology for five years and last month achieved what her supervisors are calling a "phenomenal accomplishment" as well as a milestone for the research center.

With a focus on quality assurance, Rickert has spent about two years preparing for ICET's first audit to show that they are meeting the American Society of Mechanical Engineers' nuclear quality assurance (NQA-1) standards in their work to test HEPA filtration systems.

"I developed and implemented a nuclear quality assurance program," Rickert said, adding that the whole team of researchers, engineers, testing and infrastructure fabrication personnel and an accountant at ICET are responsible for its success.

The testing of specialized filtration systems is highly technical and vitally important, as it ensures that waste treatment plants which handle radioactive materials will be secure even in unexpected conditions, such as a fire or other catastrophe.

"These filters are the last line of defense to be sure that radioactive waste is contained. HEPA filters are 99.97 percent efficient, and we put the filters into our test stands to be sure that they maintain efficiency," Rickert said.

To meet NQA-1 standards, Rickert said 18 strict requirements must be met by a facility, including stipulations regarding document control, measuring and test equipment, records, test control, as well as handling, storage and shipping, among others.

"This is really a huge accomplishment and Jaime is the person who deserves the majority of credit for getting us to this point," said Charlie Waggoner, deputy director of ICET and research professor of physics and mechanical engineering.

The Columbus native and mother of two said she always has been a "science nut," but she also enjoys the organizational and team work aspects of quality assurance. Nothing less than complete accuracy will do, she said.