ASU to host nuclear power plant workforce development workshop

During the week of July 25-29, Albany State University will host a workshop on nuclear power development for faculty members of minority universities and colleges throughout the Southeast as well as local technical colleges. The workshop, designed to prepare higher education faculty members for teaching courses aimed at nuclear power plant workforce development and greater participation in federal funding opportunities, will be held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in room 143 of the ACAD Building.

The workshop is designed to provide participants relevant and up-to-date information in nuclear power development in the areas of construction, start-up, quality assurance, safety and regulatory requirements with the intent to establish nuclear power generation (NPG) courses for workforce development in the Southeastern U.S. and to train faculty in NPG technologies. Veterans from the nuclear industry and state university faculty members will lead the seminar.

Workshop participants will include faculty members from ASU; Florida Agricultural and Mechanical Engineering University (FAMU), Tallahassee, Fla.; Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta, Ga.; Alabama Agricultural & Mechanical University, Huntsville, Ala.; Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Ala.; Georgia Perimeter College, Atlanta, Ga., and Morehead State University, Morehead, Ky. In addition, representatives from area school systems and nearby two-year colleges will attend.

The NPG courses are designed to meet the industry training objectives for workforce development and post-employment training.

The U.S. Government recently gave the go-ahead to licensing new nuclear power plants. At present, large numbers of new nuclear plants are in various stages of construction. The design, construction, startup and operation of multiple nuclear power generation units â" some of them in this region â" have created an extraordinary demand for knowledgeable technical, engineering and administrative personnel. This demand for qualified personnel â" in addition to an already critically inadequate labor force due to the retirement of baby boomers â" among all large domestic utilities has created extraordinary opportunities for new employment.

"The majority of nuclear plant engineering personnel come from diverse professional backgrounds, such as mechanical, electrical, civil and industrial engineering, physics, chemistry, business administration, and information technologies," said Dr. Atin Sinha, professor of engineering at ASU and principal investigator for the project.

As such, U.S. Government agencies including the NRC seek to engage historically black institutions in educational and research grants. ASU's workshop will give five historically black universities the resources needed to begin workforce development courses. It will also increase the capability of these institutions to produce and submit competitive grant proposals to address important issues in today's nuclear industry.

Albany State and other HBCUs in the Southeast can make significant contributions to the nuclear industry by offering basic certified courses that will familiarize participants with NPG work culture and nuclear safety mentality, Dr. Sinha said.