Midlands Technical College offers new nuclear technology program

In a new economy that stresses the importance of new technologies and job creation to lead the country toward energy independence, Midlands Technical College developed a new program to train students to become nuclear operator technicians.

The Nuclear Systems Technology program, which will be available for fall 2009, covers the fundamentals of nuclear power systems including nuclear plant components, radiological protection, reactor theory, and nuclear plant chemistry.

The program was created, in part, at the request of South Carolina Electric & Gas Company to supply the company’s expansion of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station with qualified nuclear technicians. The V.C. Summer plant, located within the college’s service area in Fairfield County, is scheduled to go on line with a new reactor in 2016, with one more reactor scheduled to start up in 2019.

The expansion of the V.C. Summer facilities is expected to require 20 new nuclear technicians per year between 2012 and 2016. In addition, projected retirements among the current local nuclear power workforce could require up to 15 new technicians each year beginning in 2010.

“The building of two additional reactor units at our Jenkinsville site will introduce a significant opportunity for us in our efforts to recruit and hire power plant operators,” said Scott Macfarland, Human Resources Manager, SCANA Corporation. “Also, as other nuclear plants expand, the job market will become increasingly competitive. These are well paying positions with a very stable future. The need for electricity is not going away and it can’t be outsourced overseas. As a long time supporter of the community, we looked at how we could meet our staffing need locally and Midlands Technical College looked like the best resource. They are as excited as we are about this opportunity and we are working together to have a two-year degree program in Nuclear Operations ready to start this fall.”

Clint Chandler, chair of MTC’s Engineering Technology and Engineering Transfer Department, said, “An important mission of Midlands Technical College is to serve the technical education needs of the Fairfield, Lexington and Richland county area. Factors such as faculty experience, facilities and proximity make MTC uniquely qualified to undertake this important training program.”

Graduates of the two-year nuclear program will receive an Associate in Occupational Technology (AOT) Degree in Mechanical Technology with a specialization in nuclear systems. Students also have the option to work toward the two-year degree by combining MTC’s Nuclear Systems Technology Certificate, Mechanical Technology Fundamentals Certificate and 15 hours of general education coursework. Students who need a basic introduction to nuclear systems can elect to earn the Nuclear Systems Technology Certificate alone.

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