The Reed Research Reactor - Atlas Obscura

Portland, Oregon

The Reed Research Reactor

Join us for a tour of the Reed College Research Reactor, the world's only nuclear reactor operated primarily by undergraduates.

Manned by a staff of 40 undergraduate students, the Reed College Research Reactor has been in use as a research and teaching facility since 1968.

The Reed Research Reactor (RRR) is a TRIGA Mark I water-cooled, "swimming pool" reactor at the bottom of a 25-foot-deep tank. The reactor is surrounded by a graphite ring which minimizes neutron leakage by reflecting neutrons back into the core. The RRR is the only reactor associated with a liberal arts school, and the only reactor run primarily by undergraduates. In fact, the staff consists of about 40 student operators, including five student supervisors, and only two full time staff members. The reactor doesn’t discriminate according to major, gender, age, or previous experience, providing all of the required training in house. As a result, more women have been licensed at the RRR than all other research reactors in the country combined.

Join us for a one-hour tour of the Reed College Research Reactor, which will cover the basics of nuclear science and the Reed Reactor's uses in science education. We'll see the Control Room and the Reactor Bay, watch students bring the reactor up to power to see it glow blue at 230 kW, and witness an emergency shut down.



  • Tours will be offered at 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm. (Make sure to double-check your tour reservation time!)
  • This event is free, but space is limited. Please remember to RSVP.
  • We'll be meeting in the Chemistry Lobby near the East Parking lot, accessed through the campus entrance on Woodstock Blvd. and SE 36th.
  • Individuals above 18 years of age must bring government-issued I.D.



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