Walter McNeil | Associate Professor

Steve Hsu Keystone Research ScholarPhoto of Walter McNeil

Ph.D. – 2010, Kansas State University
Nuclear Engineering
B.S. – 2004, Kansas State University
Mechanical Engineering

Contact information

115 Ward Hall

Professional experience

Dr. McNeil transitioned to K-State from the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command where he was lead engineer on several R&D projects, developing radiation detection systems for radiological source detection, localization, mapping, and identification. These are various roles that he performed in that position:

  • Trained and taught system users and designers on radiation sensor physics, mechanics, human factors in software and operational strategies for maximum performance and effectiveness in real-world scenarios.
  • Evaluated technical readiness of new sensor technologies for specially-trained military users including detector radiation response and extreme-environment testing to establish technical limitations.
  • Performed physics calculations to predict radiation sensor performance and limitations.
  • Consulted on low-power, low-noise circuitry layout for HV supplies and pulse-processing for rad. sensors.
  • Designed portable radiation detection systems for maximum sensitivity and minimum size: NaI/CsI, LaBr, CeBr, CLYC, CZT, Solid-state neutron detectors.
  • Doubled sensitivity of He-3 neutron sensors through novel repackaging.
  • Improved design and assembly process of portable HPGe cryogenic gamma spectrometer sensor package.
  • Implemented thermally efficient cryostat housing design with optimized electro-mechanical cryogenic cooler to produce the lightest and lowest power-consuming hand-held HPGe spectrometer available to-date
  • Performed painstaking electronic trouble-shooting of low-level, high-frequency, analog signals to find and eliminate sources of interference noise in analog sensor signals.

McNeil has more than 30 publications on radiation sensing technology including semiconductor neutron sensors, CdZnTe gamma-ray spectrometers, silicon device fabrication, neutron sensing with optical crystal properties, MEMS fabrication and material purification processes. Through that research he has received three R&D 100 awards from R&D Magazine, marking the top 100 technologically significant inventions of the year in 2005, 2009, and 2014. He has also been awarded two patents on neutron sensor inventions.

He is continuing research efforts on radiation detection systems design, fabrication, and implementation strategies for wide-ranging applications from background radiation monitoring to gamma-ray imaging.

Academic highlights

Walter McNeil teaches a laboratory session of ME535, a Measurements and Instrumentation course for mechanical engineers.

Publications and awards (pdf)

CV (pdf)