12,672 days. When the NRC issued the combined construction and operating license for Vogtle Units 3 and 4 on February 9, 2012, that’s how long it had been since the last construction license had been issued (May 31, 1977 – Wolf Creek). Was this the moment when everything changed?
The clouds didn’t part, revealing choirs of angels singing in praise of nuclear power.
There was no earth shattering kaboom.
But still, it was a good day. It means we’ve moved forward, even if one tiny step, to secure a future that continues to be powered by safe, clean, nuclear energy. And only a few weeks later, the NRC followed up with the approval for two new units at VC Summer.
A new generation of nuclear reactors will require a new generation of a trained nuclear workforce. People are needed at all levels, from technicians and trades to licensed engineers and Ph.D.s., and those of us working in nuclear education, training, and workforce development will be the backbone of the supply to an industry in growth.
No one doubts that there are still plenty of challenges ahead. The pressures of a prolonged economic downturn don’t make it any easier to sell the idea of a huge capital investment. And the lingering political effects of the accident at Fukushima increase the need for us to demonstrate the margin of safety inherent in our reactor fleet.
It has been an honor and a pleasure to serve as chair of the Education, Training, and Workforce Development Division of this ANS this past year. No other group cuts across all disciplines of nuclear science and technology the way we do. We continue to support a diverse set of technical sessions at the ANS annual and winter meetings, and at the biennial Conference On Nuclear Training and Education. At the 2012 Annual Meeting in Chicago, the ETWDD is sponsoring 6 sessions, including:
•Nuclear Technician Education and Training–Panel
•Research by U.S. DOE NEUP-Sponsored Students
•Science in Politics: Getting Scientists Elected–Panel
•Communication Workshop on Nuclear Industry and Women’s Issues
•Bridging the Gap Between Education and Policy in Education and Training–Paper/Panel
•Education, Training, and Workforce Development: General
I hope I will see you there!
Peter F. Caracappa
Chair, Education, Training, and Workforce Development Division