Photo of Chauncey Starr

Chauncey Starr

  • National Medal of Technology and Innovation
  • Automotives

For his original contributions to energy production and policy; for pioneering in nuclear power; for developing risk assessment and risk management concepts; for organizing the Electric Power Research Institute, a consortium; for leadership in engineering education and contributions to a technically trained U.S. work force.

Chauncey Starr took pride in his work on the Manhattan Project, which developed atomic weapons during World War II. Those weapons, he said, helped end World War II and save many lives.

But Starr, a pioneer in the field of nuclear energy and, later risk analysis, knew that the peacetime applications of nuclear power were even greater and he spent his life promoting it.

Born in Newark, N.J., to Russian immigrant parents, Starr received a degree in electrical engineering in 1932 from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and a doctorate in physics a few years later. After the war he continued his research in nuclear power for Rockwell International, helping develop the water-cooled nuclear reactor.

In 1972 Starr founded the Electric Power Research Institute in 1972, a non-profit dedicated to industry research. Electricity, The Washington Post quoted him in his 2007 obituary, is the flow of any modern society.

Starr was dean of UCLA’s School of Engineering and Applied Science from 1966 to 1973. While there he founded the discipline of risk analysis, publishing one of the seminal works in the field, “Social Benefit versus Technological Risk’’ in 1969.

By Robert Warren