As the nation celebrates nuclear science next week, the Augusta area will benefit from programs to explain, expand and promote awareness of a field that holds great promise for the future.
“All around the country, this area is very much recognized in nuclear circles,” said Mindy Mets, Nuclear Workforce Initiative Program Manager for the SRS Community Reuse Organization, a regional economic development group.
As part of National Nuclear Science Week, the group is planning a series of programs, articles and posters in local publications and other efforts to generate interest in nuclear technology and the job opportunities it creates so close to home.
One major initiative, funded by a grant from the U. S. Energy Department, includes the creation of nuclear and technology training programs by five educational institutions (Aiken Technical College, Augusta State University, Augusta Technical College, University of South Carolina Aiken, and University of South Carolina Salkehatchie). Skills developed through these programs will serve both nuclear and other high-tech industry sectors.
In the coming decade, almost 10,000 new jobs will emerge in the nuclear field in this region, based on a study by the Booz Allen Hamilton consulting group.
Those needs include at least 1,320 new engineers by 2014 and 924 more by 2020. If you add in new slots for technicians, professionals and craft workers, the jobs total almost 10,000, due to the influence of Savannah River Site and Plant Vogtle, where two new reactors are being planned.
“The stats are impressive,” Mets said. “Nuclear power accounts for about one-fourth of the total electricity generation in Georgia. In neighboring South Carolina, nuclear production is even higher – about half of the state’s total. And more nuclear generation is on the way.”
Nuclear Science Week is part of an initiative pushed by Energy Secretary Steven Chu to stimulate interest among young people who are needed to replace an aging, retiring work force that has not adequately regenerated itself since nuclear construction activity waned in the 1980s.
More information about National Nuclear Science Week is available by contacting the SRS Community Reuse Organization, at (803) 593-9954, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.