Spence Carter receives professional society ‘5 Under 35’ award

October 12, 2022

By Paul Menser

For Spence Carter, fire protection engineer at Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor, what he does is more about people than property. 

“It’s about buying people time,” he said. “Our job is to assess hazards and put protections in place to get people out of buildings safely.” 

Spence Carter

In recognition of his efforts, Carter, 32, has received the 5 Under 35 award from the Society of Fire Protection Engineers. The society established the award to recognize five individuals each year who best represent the industry’s top rising leaders. Selections are made based on candidates’ contributions to the profession and workplace as well as their communities. 

Carter is to receive the award at group’s annual Conference & Expo, scheduled to be held in Detroit from Oct. 12-14. Carter said he is looking forward to attending but is also a little nervous. When he accepts the award, he’ll be presenting in front of an audience in the hundreds. “I’ve never presented in front of that big a group of people,” he said. 

The society was established in 1950 and incorporated as an independent organization in 1971. Carter has been active since 2012, when he worked for BP in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. He later took a job with Bechtel at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, and learned about the INL job opening from Spenser Olson, a classmate from Oklahoma State University. 

In college, Carter started out pursuing a degree in hotel and restaurant administration when he decided he didn’t want to be working seven days a week. Looking for an alternative, he learned Oklahoma State offered a degree in fire protection and safety technology. 

“It had good job prospects,” he said. “It’s an exciting and dynamic field. New technologies bring new hazards, which means we’re always needing new codes and standards.” ATR, the world’s largest nuclear test reactor, offers a unique environment to integrate fire detection and suppression systems, one of Carter’s favorite aspects of the job. 

Carter’s award is well deserved, said David Young, an INL colleague who nominated him. “Spence not only has technical excellence beyond his years, he also contributes greatly to the community through various SFPE Snake River Valley Chapter activities and serves on the board of directors.”   

Kate Jensen, Carter’s co-worker at ATR, described him as level-headed and a self-starter. “His ability to approach problems with confidence and skill are qualities that are recognized by his peers and by ATR and INL management as well,” she said.  


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About Idaho National Laboratory

Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy. INL is the nation’s center for nuclear energy research and development, celebrating 75 years of scientific innovations in 2024. The laboratory performs research in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and the environment. 

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Posted October 12, 2022

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