FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: August 25, 2011
Media Contact: Michelle Abaldo; firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Institutional Advancement
Office: (772) 462-7265
Cell: (772) 519-1123
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IRSC TO ESTABLISH NUCLEAR ENERGY EDUCATION
CENTER FOR SOUTHEAST
Program funded by $3.1 million National Science Foundation grant to IRSC and its partners
FORT PIERCE, FL – (August 8, 2011) The nation’s first Regional Center for Nuclear Education and Training (RC-NET) will be established at Indian River State College, funded by a prestigious $3.1 million National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) grant. IRSC will lead the regional initiative to develop and deliver nuclear energy training throughout the Southeast. The four-year program will help meet the national need for 41,000 skilled nuclear employees by 2030, with over half the nuclear energy job openings projected to emerge in the Southeast. RC-NET will be based in the College’s new Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (BCIE), a sophisticated energy training facility opening at the IRSC Main Campus in Fort Pierce in January.
“IRSC’s successful partnership with Florida Power & Light and other industry leaders at the state and national level was an important factor in our attainment of this competitive grant,” said Dr. Edwin R. Massey, IRSC President. “The Nuclear Energy Education and Training Center will serve as a model of best practices for training programs across the Southeast, preparing highly--skilled technicians for well-paying jobs in the energy sector.”
Primary partners with IRSC include Central Virginia Community College, Chattanooga State Community College in Tennessee, Midlands Technical College in South Carolina, and North Carolina State University. Additionally, 15 colleges, three universities, twelve government agencies, and 27 industry partners, will participate in the project. Over time, the Regional Center will develop a model that can be utilized at the national level to benefit utilities and colleges providing nuclear energy training.
Acting as a centralized resource, the Regional Center will provide curriculum, training for faculty and staff and facilitate communication and collaboration across the nuclear industry, colleges and universities. Instruction will be enhanced by state-of-the-art technology in the College’s Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (BCIE), enabling students to gain experience with a technologically-advanced flow loop replicating the functions of a nuclear power plant.
Beginning with the 2012 Spring Semester, the BCIE will provide a variety of training opportunities in alternative energies and new technologies. The multi-purpose facility will be home to the highly-successful Power Plant Technology Institute developed by IRSC and Florida Power & Light (FPL) in 2006 to support the growing need for maintenance technicians at the FPL St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant. Over 100 graduates of the program have found employment with FPL, Progress Energy, Southern Company, Wolf Creek and Duke Energy at salaries exceeding $55,000.
For more information about nuclear energy education at IRSC, contact Dr. Kevin Cooper at Indian River State College at email@example.com
The Regional Center for Nuclear Education and Training (RC-NET) will provide turnkey curriculum for nuclear technician tracks, remote access to training tools such as they dynamic flow loop at IRSC’s new Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, North Carolina State University’s nuclear reactor controls, Career Pathway models from high school through advanced degrees, and training for faculty, staff, and subject matter experts of partner schools. The Regional Center aims to develop a model that can be scaled to the national level and benefit all utilities and colleges providing nuclear energy training. Additionally, curriculum, training, resources, and best practices developed at RC-NET are designed to be transferable to other industries within the energy sector, including generation, substation technicians, and distribution and transmission fields. Radiation courses and materials developed by RC-NET will also be transferrable to medical and homeland security training fields.
Consistent with the nuclear energy industry’s goal to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy, RC-NET will develop uniform curriculum packages with standardized learning outcomes across all training institutions, facilitate communication and collaboration across the industry, and provide virtual access to learning resources that will increase the efficiency, consistency, and reliability of the operations within nuclear fleets. The goal is to maintain a safe nuclear industry in the United States while replacing an aging workforce and scaling up to meet the workforce demands of a growing industry.
The RC-NET award comes at a critical time in the nuclear energy industry. In addition to a substantial portion of the workforce being eligible for retirement, the nuclear energy industry must address new safety and operation protocols in light of the recent situation in Japan. These new procedures will result in increased oversight and in the implementation of emergency systems like battery banks, all of which requires additional personnel.
In 2006, the Power Plant Technology Institute was created at IRSC to support the growing need for maintenance technicians at FPL’s St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant. An industry-driven initiative, this Institute is the result of collaboration between Florida Power & Light, representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and Indian River State College. As a model partnership between industry and education, the Power Plant Technology Institute received the 2007 Innovation of the Year Award from the League for Innovation in the Community College. Over the past five years, thanks to grants from the Department of Education, Department of Labor, National Science Foundation and Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Power Plant Technology Institute has expanded, graduating over 100 students who have found employment at FPL, Progress Energy, Southern Company, Wolf Creek and Duke Energy at salaries exceeding $55,000.
Indian River State College is a comprehensive public state college offering Bachelor’s Degrees, Associate Degrees and career training programs at full-service campuses in Fort Pierce, Okeechobee, Port St. Lucie, Stuart and Vero Beach, Florida, serving over 34,000 students annually. For more information, visit www.irsc.edu
The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency that funds approximately 20% of all federally supported basic research at U.S. colleges and universities. For more information, see the foundation’s website.