Cardinal Cadence Spring/Summer 2012

Powering the world

Hash HashemianToday, approximately 440 nuclear power plants provide about 6 percent of the world’s energy and 15 percent of its electricity. In the United States, 104 commercial reactors at 65 nuclear power stations produce nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electric power, making the U.S. the world’s leading supplier of commercial nuclear power.

Keeping all that equipment operating safely involves oversight by agencies like the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, International Atomic Energy Agency and International Electrotechnical Commission, all of which mandate tests to ensure plant safety. Helping continually improve nuclear power safety is a core business of Analysis and Measurement Services Corp., a company with worldwide reach that was co-founded by H.M. “Hash” Hashemian ’08 in 1977.

With a list of clients from around the globe, AMS’s cutting-edge equipment, services and training are a vital part of the formula for safety for nuclear energy today. The company’s operations in Europe and Asia now generate more than 20 percent of its revenue, including work in plants in Great Britain, Korea, Slovenia, Spain and Switzerland.

At age 58, Hashemian earned a doctorate in electrical engineering from Lamar University, earned a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden and, in 2001, completed a second Ph.D. in engineering science, at the University of Western Ontario, Canada.

As a doctoral student at Lamar, Hashemian studied with Wendell Bean, but it wasn’t the first time he found himself under Bean’s tutelage. He had first met Bean when he arrived Lamar in 1974 to study engineering. Hashemian already held a bachelor’s degree in physics from National University of Iran when he came to the U.S., joining his brother Mehrad and sister-in-law Vida, both undergraduate students at Lamar. He became interested in nuclear engineering after taking a course on nuclear energy with Bean.

“I fell in love with nuclear engineering in that class and wanted to change my major,” Hashemian said. With Bean’s encouragement, he made a move to the epicenter of nuclear work, Knoxville, Tenn.

“If you wanted to go into nuclear engineering, Knoxville was the area to come to because of the University of Tennessee, Oak Ridge National Laboratory—the largest science laboratory in the U.S. —and the Tennessee Valley Authority,” Hashemian said. At UT, Hashemian completed his master’s in nuclear engineering, and, while still a graduate student, co-founded AMS with professor of nuclear engineering Thomas Kerlin.

“He sold his share to me in 1985 and went on to become the chairman of the Department of Nuclear Engineering,” Hashemian said. Kerlin served in that capacity from 1988 to 1997. Begun in a two-room office in a converted house near the campus, AMS now has two locations in the U.S. and representative offices in Austria, Spain, South Korea and Switzerland.

The unique products of AMS allow the monitoring and testing of vital safety systems without interrupting operations, vital in an industry where going “off line” nets losses of more than $1 million a day. More vital still is accuracy and effectiveness of these systems to verify safety functions and plant controls around the clock. AMS systems can also swiftly and safely shut a plant down if necessary, but bring it down in a manner that prevents unnecessary downtime.

After many years growing the business, Hashemian felt it would be beneficial to earn credentials corresponding to those of the engineers and scientists he interacted with around the world. His first thought was of Lamar University. “I wanted to come back and finish what I had started here,” Hashemian said.

“Hash came back to Lamar in 2005 to pursue doctoral studies after a very successful and entrepreneurial start up of his own company,” said Jack Hopper, dean of the College of Engineering. “This kind of experience is very rare for a graduate student.”

“I was asked to interview Hash when he first came to campus,” said Victor Zaloom, then associate dean of engineering and coordinator of engineering graduate programs. “His resumé and superb international reputation didn’t stand in the way of his desire to work exceptionally hard for his degree. In fact, in my Doctoral Seminar class, Hash’s work was the most professional ever given in the seminar.

“Hash was an excellent student, a gentleman, a family man and a person of class in every way. The engineering faculty grew to respect Hash for his intellect and integrity,” Zaloom said.

After graduating from Lamar in 2008, Hashemian established the Dr. Wendell C. Bean Scholarship in Electrical Engineering to honor his professor’s dedication to higher education and passion for learning. “I felt very honored and humbled,” Bean said. Since that time, Hashemian and Bean have collaborated on technical papers published in leading peer-reviewed journals.

Hashemian has written two books, one published in the U.S. and the other published in Germany. These books have been translated into Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Russian. In addition, he has authored more than 50 peer-reviewed journal and magazine articles, 200 conference papers and 10 book chapters. He also holds 15 U.S. patents, 10 awarded and five pending.

Hashemian serves as a Fellow in the International Society of Automation, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, a member of the American Nuclear Society and a member of the European Nuclear Society. He has worked for the nuclear, aerospace, oil and gas and other industries as well as the U.S. government, including the NRC, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, Air Force, Navy and National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He has served as a lecturer, keynote speaker and chairman or co-chairman of numerous national and international conferences.

Hashemian’s influence includes service on advisory boards for Lamar University, where he is a member of the College of Engineering Advisory Council. Hopper sees Hashemian’s extensive background in the nuclear industry and experience with other academic institutions as tremendously valuable insight for Lamar.

Accolades keep coming for Hashemian and AMS, including being named to Inc. Magazine’s list of 5,000 fastest-growing private companies. AMS won Knoxville’s 2010 Pinnacle Business Award in the medium-sized business category. In 2011, AMS was tapped with a Tibbetts Award from the Small Business Administration for its high-tech innovation, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce recognized the company for its strong business practices and economic contributions when it was one of only 25 companies nationwide to receive the 2011 Free Enterprise award.

But nothing brings him more pride than his family, Hashemian said. He and his wife, Nazzy, have a son, Alex, 22, and daughter, Nikki, 20, who are students at the University of Tennessee.

by Brian Sattler

May 2012