Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Nuclear Engineering

Major Professor

Dr. Howard Hall

Committee Members

Dr. Lawrence Heilbronn, Dr. Brandon Prins


Technology used in nuclear security allows for many practical applications for securing material while simultaneously providing malicious opportunities for adversaries to potentially steal or misuse the material. Fixed sites and various modes of transport for nuclear and other radioactive material all can benefit from the use of new technology in mitigating against these threats. One emerging technology in nuclear security that is rapidly growing is the use of unmanned aerial systems (UAS). UASs provide a different dimension of security compared to methods that are traditionally used because of the added aerial characteristics of these devices. These devices offer new detection, delay, and response measures as operations are conducted using an aerial method rather than more traditional ground methods. Because of the increased popularity, availability, and capabilities of UAS technology, these tools are shifting trends in technology and how it is applied to nuclear security. The theory of disruptive innovation as it pertains to nuclear security is introduced as a guideline for assessing UAS technology. Additionally, regulation gaps relating to use of UAS technology in fixed site and transport security will be addressed. UAS technology is creating security incidents at nuclear sites and a new method of assessing this threat is needed to help determine the overall impact this technology is having in nuclear security and assist in distributing resources. A combination of a new dimension of use, increasing trends and security incidents, and lack of regulations shows signs that UAS is becoming a disruptive technology used in the nuclear security field.

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