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After months of classroom lectures and book work, College of Southern Maryland nuclear engineering technology students had an opportunity to put down their textbooks and highlighters to don hard hats, safety glasses, ear protection and gloves as they completed summer internships at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby.
“This experience is beyond my expectations. To come to the plant and see the practical use of what we have been learning in class is incredible,” Teague Gibson of Nanjemoy said in a CSM news release.
Gibson was spending time in the North Service Area machine shop observing employees overhaul a motorized valve. Gibson said he left legal office work to pursue a technical career.
During the six-week summer cooperative education/internship program, students toured the Constellation Energy Nuclear Group Calvert Cliffs facility, attended lectures and courses led by CENG instructors, and rotated through electrical and mechanical maintenance, instrumentation and control, and chemistry and radiation protection systems to get a flavor of the work conducted in those shops.
Tara Wille, a CSM alumna of the NET program and CENG employee, said that the experiences she had during her own internship were confirmation that she made the right career choice. Interns learn that the plant elevators give depths below ground, from 12 feet to 47 feet, instead of floor numbers; that temperatures in the Turbine Building can reach 120 degrees; and that cleaning the cooling water intake area can reek from trapped Chesapeake Bay flotsam and jetsam. Wille wasn’t deterred, and now she shares her knowledge with current interns, such as Jamie Yost of Lusby and Chad Delahay of Loveville.
Yost said he learned about the NET program from his Calvert Career Center teacher DeWeese Butler, a CSM adjunct faculty member who teaches NET 2020. Yost also heard about the program from his older brother, Jack, who graduated from CSM in May 2013 with an associate degree in Nuclear Engineering Technology: Instrumentation and Control, and is now working for CENG.
CSM’s two-year NET program is affiliated with the Nuclear Energy Institute, and CSM students who complete the program receive an associate degree in nuclear engineering technology with a concentration in instrumentation and control, electrical or mechanical. Graduates also receive a certificate of completion signed by the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, National Academy for Nuclear Training and CENG, which is accepted at all nuclear power plants throughout the U.S.
“[National recognition] is a big plus. I’d like to stay here in Southern Maryland, but it is good to know that I qualify for positions at power plants around the country,” Jason Wagner of Owings said in the release.
Another plus is that graduates of programs such as CSM’s NET program are completing the two-year in-house qualification training substantially faster than other employees, according to Dave Schrumpf, CENG general supervisor of instrumentation maintenance. CENG has indicated that new employees who have not completed a program such as NET 2020 would have to go through two years of internal training before reaching the same competency level as CSM graduating students.
In addition to paid internships, students who qualify for the NET program receive scholarships through CSM’s Nuclear Education Scholarship Program, which received $150,000 as part of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s fiscal 2013 Nuclear Education Program.
For information on the program, go to www.csmd.edu/BAT/NETInstrumentation.