Meet Peter De Vietien: future fusion engineer

devietian (Download Image) Peter De Vietien just completed his master’s degree in nuclear engineering from Purdue University. After his internship at the Lab, he is heading to Vancouver to work at General Fusion. Photo by Julie Russell/LLNL

Editor's Note: This is one in a series of articles highlighting the diverse group of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory summer students.


The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) student internship program is designed to allow students to engage in work-study employment opportunities in relevant science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and administrative fields during the summer academic break. This year, LLNL is proud to welcome more than 600 students from universities nationwide and around the world.  

Introducing: Peter De Vietien

Full name: Peter Lovejoy De Vietien

Hometown: Indianapolis, Indiana

University attending/educational background:  Graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nuclear engineering from Purdue University.

Major: Nuclear engineering

Minor: For my bachelor’s degree, I minored in math, physics and mechanical engineering. For my master’s degree, I chose a concentration in computational science and engineering.

Graduation year: 2015

LLNL directorate you are working in: Weapons and Complex Integration

What interested you in pursuing a summer internship at the Laboratory?

I was interning at Los Alamos last summer, and one of my mentors said that Sandia was organized, Livermore was brilliant and Los Alamos was necessary. After hearing that, I wanted to come to Livermore. Also, the National Ignition Facility (NIF) is pretty nifty.

What are you working on at the Laboratory?

I'm helping improve the ability for one of the Lab's newer codes to simulate a material right before that material breaks. A little more specifically, I'm helping identify and remedy instabilities related to porosity models.


What do you enjoy most about interning at the Laboratory?

The facilities are superb but I enjoy the people the most. Virtually everyone I meet has something interesting to talk about, and they tend to be humble, too.

What have you learned (or are learning) that has made a difference to you?

First, I'm continuing to learn how to be patient with myself. Second, I'm learning finite elements and some hydrodynamics. Those are great, too.

Where do you see yourself after graduation? What is your dream job?

After this summer, I'm going to work at General Fusion in Vancouver. Throughout my master’s program, I always said my dream job would be to work on a fusion reactor, so I can't complain.

Who/what has inspired you to pursue an education and career in a STEM field?

When I first learned about determinism in my high school physics class, I had a dream of being able to use physics to learn everything about the universe. What really interested me was trying to understand our mind using physics. Of course, that was an absurdly large dream, much larger than I ever expected, and since then I got distracted. Now, I think fusion is fantastic, so that's my current inspiration. Also, Elon Musk inspires me quite a bit.

What has been your biggest challenge to overcome?

The biggest challenge for me has been picking which doors to go through. I found a lot of things interesting, and it's a huge relief to have finally settled on one.

What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far?

I would have to say changing my lifestyle and outlook. I used to be more of a passive dreamer, but now I've added some responsibility and determination, and I like it.

As a college student, what is the most important lesson you have learned?               

Ten minutes of learning with the right person can help you more than hours with the wrong person. Also, I can't remember regretting being polite and professional, but I can easily remember regretting being rude.

What advice would you give a high school student?

1) Start writing a journal. Even if you have nothing interesting to say, you'll love looking back on it later. 

2) Be nice to yourself. Don't be meaner to yourself than you would be to anyone else. 

3) If you think you're better than everyone, beware. That rarely ends well.

4) Accept that failure is scary, and accept that it's OK if you fail. Creativity depends on our ability to try, despite knowing that we may fail.


What do you like to do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

For the most part, I worry about getting more done at work. Outside of that I do exercise classes, cook, meditate, play tennis, bike and try to get outside as much as I can. Also, I recently started salsa dancing.

What is next for you/what are you looking forward to?

I am looking forward to getting acclimated to the culture and climate of Vancouver, and transitioning from a research environment to a more "industrial" one. 

De Vietien’s last day at the Laboratory was Aug. 21.


To learn more about summer internships and the Laboratory’s scholar programs, visit the scholars@llnl website.

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