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Fall 2009 Handout

Fall 2009 Handout

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Published by: Casenergy on Jan 06, 2011
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t has been nearly 60 years sinceIdaho’s Experimental BreederReactor 1 (EBR-1) became thefrst electricity-generating nuclearpower plant in the United States. Atthe time, EBR-1 produced enoughelectricity to power our 200-wattlight bulbs, later expanding its powercapabilities to light up the entireacility. Today, nuclear power plantssupply approximately 20% o theelectricity used by the United Stateseach year, according to the EnergyInormation Administration (EIA).Currently, there are 104 nuclearreactors operating in 31 states.Much has been written aboutnuclear energy, with many o thediscussions ocused on the saetyo the nuclear plants that generateit. In response, there are a numbero organizations that are quick topoint out how nuclear energy canimprove energy security and ensureclean air quality, saying it minimallyimpacts the carbon ootprint, unlikethe burning o coal and ossil uels.One such organization is the
CASEnergy Coalition
(www.cleansaeenergy.org), a nationalgrassroots coalition that promotesthe economic and environmentalbenefts o nuclear power throughregional and national media andeducational outreach. Made upo more than 2,000 membersacross the business, environmental,academic, consumer, and laborcommunity, the coalition is led byormer Environmental ProtectionAgency Administrator ChristineTodd Whitman and co-ounder andormer leader o Greenpeace, Dr.Patrick Moore.Regardless o what side o thedebate you are on, what cannot beargued is the industry’s desire tohave the most qualifed engineers,technicians, and other youngproessionals working in keypositions. This act is no moreapparent than at the Indian Point
By Michael A. Casano
For Engineering and IT Proessionals
FALL 2009
Powering Up – Careersin Nuclear Energy
Energy Center (IPEC) in Buchanan,NY. Owned and operated by theEntergy Corporation (www.entergy.com), IPEC’s two operating nuclearunits generate more than 2,000megawatts at 98% capacity – oneo the highest rates in the industry.At ull strength, the units generateenough electricity to supply powerto homes, businesses, hospitals,and other critical inrastructure inNew York City’s fve boroughs andWestchester County.
One o the engineers responsibleto maintain the operationalsuccess at IPEC is OvidioRamirez. An electrical systemsengineer at the acility, Ramirezis involved in reactor protectionand control, which addresses allthe instrumentation and controlsystems that regulate power inthe reactor. Ramirez handles theanalysis, design, management, andimplementation o modifcations tothose systems, identiying potentialissues beore they escalate.“The object here is to be proactivewith addressing the monitoringtools used to watch anythinginvolving the core,” says Ramirez.“Once you see any sort odegrading trend, we look to startsome sort o troubleshootinginstance, or i not, some solution toeliminate those degrading trends.”Ramirez’s decision to pursue acareer in nuclear energy cameabout during his senior year atManhattan College. Focused onelectrical engineering, Ramirezbegan looking or jobs at electriccompanies such as Con Edison.However, his plans changed aterspeaking with representatives oEntergy at a school career air.“When you’re in the electricalengineering feld, it becomessecond nature to build or analyzecircuits,” explains Ramirez. “Here,a lot o the troubleshootinginvolves a similar analysis ocircuits,” explains Ramirez. “Here,a lot o the troubleshootinginvolves a similar analysis ocircuits to fgure out what theissues can possibly be. So, I’m ableto use my particular background incircuit analysis I learned in collegewhen coming up with a solution toaddress a particular issue involvingcircuitry here at the plant.”I you look to break into the nuclearenergy feld, Ramirez notes it isimportant to take engineeringcourses related to general powerand power transmission. A stronggeneral background gives you animmediate advantage since manyengineers begin working on thosetypes o systems frst, instead omore involved circuitry work.As ar as sot skills training, publicspeaking is high atop Ramirez’slist. “You’re required to speak tohiring bosses and in ront o largegroups o people to give statuseson what you’re working on,” heremarks. “I there’s an issue, you’reresponsible to clearly presentwhat that situation is and makerecommendations on a solution.And, you’re going to have to dealwith various departments to makesure they understand how toimplement your solution. So, youneed to eel comortable speakingwith everyone to keep thingsmoving and to make sure youclearly get your points across.”
Theresa Motko agrees onthe importance o strongcommunications skills – giventhe benefts she ound by takingproessional development classesin college where she practicedpublic speaking and presentations.A colleague o Ramirez’s at IPEC,Motko maintains the reliability othe instrumentation and saetysystems that regulate power inthe reactor. Much like Ramirez,Motko’s entry into the feld cameabout ater hearing others speakpositively about the proession.Motko attended Sacred HeartAcademy in Hempstead, NY – ahigh school ocused predominantlyon liberal arts, medicine, and law.However, during her senior year, an
For Engineering and IT Proessionals
FALL 2009
Powering Up – Careers in Nuclear Energy
electrical engineer rom the NewYork Power Authority came in tospeak to her math class, part o aninitiative to raise awareness o thecareer with high-school girls.“The engineer explained that therewere not a lot o women in thefeld and that there were a lot oopportunities there,” she recalls.“At that point, I had decided topursue biomedical engineering,where I would at least have theengineering background. But Ialso wanted to pursue a career inthe medical feld. However, aterbeginning college, I decided thatI did like the engineering aspects,so I switched over to electricalengineering.”Motko says that misunderstandingson the saety o nuclear energycan be attributed to the limitedknowledge people may have ingeneral on how energy is created.That, in turn, may cause somehesitancy by qualifed engineersto pursue jobs in the feld. “Thebiggest hurdle when it comes tonuclear energy being discussedis the act that many people havethat negative connotation, notonly with Three Mile Island butalso with Chernobyl,” she declares.“The misconception is that we’resusceptible to the same kind oailure or accident happening herein the United States. We’re notbecause it’s two totally dierentdesigned types o reactors.”Instead, Motko emphasizes thatthe current business environmentis ideal or aspiring engineerslooking or jobs in nuclear energy.Many o the engineers who beganin the industry now look to retire,providing opportunities or newengineers to take their place. “I wasactually part o the frst string onew hires straight out o college,”she remembers. “Now, we havequite a number o new engineershere. Being around peoplethe same age and with similarbackgrounds gives us a greatsense o camaraderie. It’s a goodnetworking group as well.”To enter the feld, both Motko andRamirez encourage afliationswith related organizations so youcan network and learn o potential job opportunities. Along withbeing members o the CASEnergyCoalition, Ramirez and Motkobelong to the North AmericanYoung Generation in Nuclear,comprised o young proessionalspassionate about the nuclearindustry who want us share theirideas through networking withother companies and individuals.Aspiring engineers should alsoexplore internships with companieswhile in college. For example, IPECoers summer internships and co-op programs that provide a goodlearning experience or studentsbecause they get to experience theday-in, day-out work engineers do.
Although the nuclearenergy industry isheavy in technicaland engineeringdisciples, there arealso opportunities inother areas, such asin business services,communications,and law…there isa diverse group ofpeople working herewho operate thefacility. There’s a lotof opportunity outhere, especially withthe development ofnew sites. It’s anexciting time forthose of us workinghere.”
For Engineering and IT Proessionals
FALL 2009
Powering Up – Careers in Nuclear Energy

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