5 area colleges get nuclear workforce grant

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The U.S. Department of Energy has announced that five area colleges will share a $935,000 grant to offer training for nuclear-related and other high technology jobs.

This funding came as a result of a study commissioned by the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization's Nuclear Workforce Initiative, which expects nearly 10,000 new nuclear workers to be needed in government and private sectors over the next decade in the Augusta region.

The educational institutions that will share this grant are: Augusta State University, Aiken Technical College, Augusta Technical College, University of South Carolina Aiken and USC Salkehatchie. With this funding, these schools will work together to offer training in the critical areas of quality control, nuclear welding, chemical technology, environmental remediation and restoration, and integration of nuclear science into chemistry and physics programs.

According to SRS Community Reuse Organization officials, the five colleges will partner with DOE in the areas of science, technology, engineering, mathematics and research for the DOE Environmental Management program through a formal five-year Memorandum of Understanding.

Tom Crute, chairman of ASU's Department of Chemistry and Physics, says the university is expected to receive more than $835,000 over the next five years, of which $157,849 has already been given. Crute says this funding will be used for the development and implementation of nuclear science tracks in chemistry and physics degree programs. The grant will also go toward set-up of a nuclear laboratory and equipment purchasing, hiring additional faculty, providing current faculty professional development in the field of nuclear science, and offering scholarships for students pursuing a bachelor's degree.

"We are excited about developing a new program that will serve the needs of not only our nontraditional students, but our area's growing nuclear workforce," says Crute.

Formed last year by the SRS Community Reuse Organization, the Nuclear Workforce Initiative is coordinating nuclear workforce development efforts among regional employers, educational institutions, and economic development organizations.

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