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Project-based Learning Program for Nuclear Workforce Development Phase II: Implementation

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2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Energy Conversion and Conservation Division Technical Session 1: Mechanical and CAD Track

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

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Paper Authors


Hayrettin Bora 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 six 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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Due to the predicted personnel needs for nuclear and power industries and related national security issues, it has become apparent that efforts must be put in place to prepare individuals for careers in these industries. One of the effective ways to ensure the personnel needs for the nuclear power industry and security are met in a timely manner is to promote educational programs that develop skills and knowledge in support of the workforce growth. Many more individuals from non-traditional sources must be recruited and trained than ever before if individuals are to become part of the nuclear workforce in the near future. ________ serves diverse student populations (especially first-generation students) who have not historically entered careers in nuclear-related industries. Therefore, the project-based learning program presents an opportunity for education and training for students as part of the nuclear workforce development efforts.

Several years ago ____________ joined with Consortium of Universities for Sustainable Power (CUSP) as part of a country-wide partnership lead by University of Minnesota to attract and train students into careers in sustainable power. An engineering major with electrical power concentration was developed under the engineering program through which students could take various courses at ______________ and to address the regional needs. To encourage interest in careers in nuclear power, attractive and highly competitive scholarships funded through a grant from Nuclear Regulatory Commission were offered to students at sophomore to senior levels. The scholarship was made available to students majoring in the bachelor science of engineering program with electrical power and mechanical concentrations. Although the scholarships supported only a few students in the first semester of the program, other students who saw the benefits of such training also entered the program in following semester. Nuclear power related capstone projects were also adopted by students, increasing exposure to regulations, standards, management and other aspects of nuclear power besides the technical program.

The initial efforts (Phase I) towards the NRC scholarship program and workforce development during the first year of implementation were published in ____ ASEE conference proceedings. Here, we present the results of the first and second year efforts involving the implementation of the program (Phase II). Accounts involving students, both scholarship recipients and other, who have engaged in a capstone projects related to the nuclear power industry are also discussed. The findings of first and second year assessments on student outreach and educational goals are shared. We provide an update on the status of the program, and summarize lessons learned as a guide for other programs in support of nuclear workforce development.

Karayaka, H. B., & Ferguson, C. W., & Thompson, A. C. (2021, July), Project-based Learning Program for Nuclear Workforce Development Phase II: Implementation Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

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