Being one of the few Black professionals specializing in nuclear energy tech

Interview date:

February 5, 2021

Sunchi Chen

Nuclear Energy Development Engineer
United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority

Sunchi Chen, a nuclear energy development engineer working in the United Kingdom, shares her journey of surviving childhood in a low-income community and going on to earn university degrees in nuclear physics and nuclear energy technology.

As one of the few Black people in the world working in this field, she sees her legacy as long-term. "I wanted my contribution to extend beyond my immediate circle and to extend past my own lifetime. So going into nuclear energy definitely ensures that."

"It was really [my] teachers who saw my potential and said that I'm able to do it. Before that, I wouldn't have known it was a viable option. One particular teacher was my A-level teacher. She was a woman who had an engineering degree. The first woman I met who had an engineering degree. It was after a conversation with her where she really told me to trust myself, my instincts, my abilities, that I realized that engineering is a viable career for me."
Sunchi Chen at graduation
Sunchi Chen with her family
Sunchi Chen as an inquisitive child


  • Don't punish curiosity. Encourage kids to experiment to understand how things work.
  • Don't glorify success. Tell stories of struggle and experiencing challenges.
  • Showcase role models and give youth direct contact with them.