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An Evaluation of Focused Outreach and Recruiting Efforts in a Nuclear-related Workforce Development Program

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2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


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Publication Date

June 22, 2020

Start Date

June 22, 2020

End Date

June 26, 2021

Conference Session

ECCD Technical Session 4: Energy and Analysis

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

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Paper Authors


Hayrettin B. Karayaka Western Carolina University

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Bora Karayaka is an Associate Professor at the College of Engineering and Technology, Western Carolina University. He has worked as a Senior Engineer for smart grid and wireless communication industries for over ten years. He is currently responsible for teaching electric power engineering courses in the college.

Dr. Karayaka’s research interests include power engineering education, energy generation, identification, modeling and control for electrical machines and smart grid. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Istanbul Technical University in Control and Computer Engineering and his PhD degree in Electrical Engineering from The Ohio State University.

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Chip W. Ferguson Western Carolina University

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Chip Ferguson is the Associate Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology and Professor of Engineering and Technology at Western Carolina University.

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Amber C. Thompson Western Carolina University

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Amber C. Thompson is an Assistant Professor and Coordinator for Engineering Technology-Technical Operations Distance Program at Western Carolina University. She has a long history of research in customized training and workforce development in Western North Carolina. Dr. Thompson has four years of industrial experience and served in the NC community college system for ten years. She has also served on the local business advancement team for five years.

Dr. Thompson’s research interests are workforce development, engineering graphics and prototyping, and human factors in engineering. She has an Ed.D. from Liberty University, an Ed.S. from Northwestern State University of Louisiana, an M.S.T. from Western Carolina University, a B.S. from Appalachian State University, and an A.A.S. from Isothermal Community College.

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The main objective of this nuclear-related workforce development program is to use the scholarships provided by the federal funding agency ($5000 per semester) to recruit and retain students who will sustain our existing program for serving nuclear-related industry and academia leveraging (...)’s engineering project based learning sequence. Our secondary objective is to increase the quality, quantity and diversity of students seeking these engineering degrees. The program seeks to recruit engineering students specializing in electric power, mechanical and electrical disciplines, jointly called EPME, students who are pursuing an educational emphasis in nuclear power. This paper summarizes and evaluates the outreach and recruiting efforts for a focused group of students who meet or exceed the selection criteria set forth by the funding agency.

The workforce development program was designed to increase awareness of nuclear power related degrees and employment opportunities in those fields through its recruitment and advertisement campaign. Our recruitment efforts are focused on (...) junior and senior students who demonstrate commitment to a career supporting the nuclear industry in the near term. These students have already shown promise in scholarship and academic success. Sophomore students are also considered in case applicant pool from junior and senior students is not satisfactory both quantitatively and qualitatively.

The School of (...) at (...) has increased in enrollment by about 15% over the last three years. This enrollment trend is predicted to grow due to the regional demands of industry and the onset of a state-wide initiative of lower tuition rates for (...) students. With this increase of enrollment, the EPME programs will have significant numbers of students who qualify for this scholarship program. The educational pathways for these students to obtain junior and/or senior status is varied. Because of our strong regional partnerships, we are able to recruit students from many different avenues. In addition to in house students, examples of particular importance are the State Community College system, the State Department of Public Instruction through traditional high schools and Early Colleges, and the State Workforce Development Boards.

A focused outreach and recruiting efforts were administered to target and attract students interested to be part of the nuclear related workforce in U.S. First, an email was composed and sent to existing students who are meeting or exceeding the specific criteria (such as academic level and GPA set forth by the funding agency) in the university. The effort included community college visits, participation in university open house events, and internet posting through a website. A total of nine applications were eventually received by the deadline in fall 2018 semester. As a result of the relatively unsatisfactory applicant pool, a second round of outreach and recruiting efforts primarily focusing on existing students were conducted. This effort yielded another two applications by the deadline in spring 2019 semester.

Evaluation of the recruitment efforts was analyzed through the data from a recruitment survey that is included in this paper and discussed in detail. The group size for students who completed the surveys included not just scholarship recipients but also other students who are recruited to the engineering programs at (...).

Karayaka, H. B., & Ferguson, C. W., & Thompson, A. C. (2020, June), An Evaluation of Focused Outreach and Recruiting Efforts in a Nuclear-related Workforce Development Program Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34120

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