Roane State Community College today announced the launch of a Nuclear Technology Program with a $100,000 contribution from UT-Battelle, LLC, which manages and operates Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for the US Department of Energy.
“There is no better place in the country to advance nuclear energy and technology than East Tennessee,” Roane State President Chris Whaley said. “This generous contribution will allow us to launch a program that will meet a need for skilled technicians for a variety of sites and industries.”
Funds from UT-Battelle will purchase instruments, sources, and tools for the college’s Nuclear Measurements Lab. Between 10 and 20 students are expected in the first class, which is set to begin Fall 2024.
Students will receive an associate degree or a certificate in Nuclear Technology and will be prepared for a broad range of activities such as medical isotopes, fissile material handling, waste handling and disposition, and support for companies and sites developing nuclear reactors and fuel.
“When companies talk about locating in Tennessee, at the top of their list is ‘workforce,’” said Jeff Smith, interim president and CEO of UT-Battelle and interim director of ORNL. “They want to know that if they come here, they’ll be able to find the employees they need.”
Smith announced UT-Battelle’s contribution today with Whaley at the Nuclear Opportunities Workshop at the Airport Hilton, and he encouraged the 200-plus attendees to seek ways they can help to build Tennessee’s nuclear workforce, too.
The Roane State program provides hands-on experience typically unavailable until a graduate joins a company and begins job-specific training. The Nuclear Technology Program will include use of radiation instruments of various types, the response of detectors to differing types of radiation, capturing and processing data generated by these instruments to make relevant conclusions, and practical uses of these instruments in relevant jobs.
“This investment of resources is not only meaningful for us in the resources themselves, but also the expertise ORNL will provide to make sure the equipment is exactly what students need, exactly what they’ll see when they get out in the workplace,” Whaley said.