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MTC Nuclear Systems Technology Students Earn Industry’s Highest Standards, Potential $50,000 Salaries Right Out of College

Twelve Midlands Technical College Nuclear Systems Technology students earned the Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program (NUCP) Certificate at a ceremony on the MTC Northeast Campus. The NUCP certificate, a program of the Nuclear Energy Institute, is the framework for educating and developing operators and technicians at the industry’s highest standards for nuclear power plants around the country.

“This is a proud day for our students in this program,” said MTC President Ronald L. Rhames. “But without the shared vision between MTC and SCANA, this day and this program would not be possible. Our partnership with SCANA guarantees that students who are recruited out of the Nuclear Systems Technology Program are job-ready from day one.”

The expansion of the V.C. Summer facility is expected to require 15 nuclear operators per year through 2017. V.C. Summer is co-owned by SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas Company and state-owned utility Santee Cooper. Trained at the industry’s highest standards, the students receiving the NUCP credential positions them to work as non-licensed nuclear operators. The Nuclear Energy Institute lists the median salary for a non-licensed operator at $65,000, though actual earnings may be higher due to overtime, bonuses and incentive compensation.

“Having earned this certificate, these students are eligible for advanced placement in utility accredited training programs at nuclear plants anywhere in the nation,” said Andy Barbee, SCE&G’s Director of Nuclear Training for V.C. Summer in Fairfield County.

MTC designed the Nuclear Systems Technology program in 2008 at the request of SCANA to supply the company’s expansion of V.C. Summer Nuclear Station with qualified nuclear technicians. The program covers the fundamentals of nuclear power systems including nuclear plant components, radiological protection, reactor theory, and nuclear plant chemistry.

“We’re going to need a lot of operators to work at the station,” said Barbee. “We collaborated with MTC to ensure that our NUCP graduates could be hired as operators. We made sure that the curriculum housed fundamental topics that are important for plant operations.”

Graduates of MTC’s Nuclear Operator program are qualified to work as nuclear operators at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. Graduates with the NUCP credentials are also qualified to work at other nuclear plants around the country or around the world.

“These students have done something exceptional,” said Dr. Clint Chandler, MTC Department Chair for Engineering Technologies. “This certificate from the National Academy for Nuclear Training proves they have gone through the most strenuous program designed by leaders in the industry.”

Chandler said having an industry partner like SCANA to share nuclear operational data with the college is critical to a successful NUCP program.

“You simply can’t be certified as a NUCP unless you have a very close relationship with someone in the nuclear industry.”

The program is working, and so are the Nuclear Technology students. Several of those receiving their NUCP certificates have already received job offers from SCANA.

“The future is bright for students studying nuclear energy,” said Barbee, who explained that in South Carolina and nationally, jobs in the nuclear industry are very available due to growth in the industry and because many current employees are approaching retirement.

“It’s been a great partnership, and I look forward to it continuing,” he said.

For more information about MTC’s program in Nuclear Systems Technology, contact Ben Gaston at 803-691-3837.

Photo Caption: MTC President Ronald L. Rhames (left) with students, instructors and partners of the Nuclear Systems Technology program.

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