Former Hannibal resident Eric R. Welch, Ph.D., has been selected as Director of Human Resources for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER).

Former Hannibal resident Eric R. Welch, Ph.D., has been selected as Director of Human Resources for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER). As a result of the historic 1985 Geneva Summit between President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, 35 nations are collaborating in an attempt to build a self-sustaining synthetic “star.” The project is intended to supply the world’s power for the next 30 million years with no pollution and virtually no waste.

The science is complex — the machine which is being built to create the star will have over one million parts. The star will reach an internal temperature of over 150 million degrees Celsius, ten times hotter than our sun. Because no substance on earth can hold the star, it will be confined in a “bottle” built with the world’s largest superconducting magnets, cooled to a temperature of minus 269 degrees Celsius, nearly as cold as the temperature of deep space. The star will be fueled with hydrogen, the most abundant element in the universe. The project is so large that it has developed its own unit of currency. It is scheduled to become operational in 2025.

Welch is a graduate of Hannibal High School and the University of Notre Dame, served as an officer in the U.S. Navy, and received his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University. Welch has previous experience managing an international and multilingual body of employees as NATO’s Head of Talent Management and Organizational Development in Brussels. He is the son of Joseph and Sharon Welch of Hannibal.