June 18, 2018

Innovative Nuclear Education Initiative Addresses Looming Workforce Shortage in Nuclear Industry

Submitted by on October 7, 2011 – 10:00 am
by Rebecca Van Scyoc, Fred Gardner & Rod Strand
Michael Krupinski Memorial Foundation, Nuclear Decommissioning Report, September 2011
Founded in 2006, the Michael Krupinski Memorial Foundation (MKMF) specializes in building alliances with educational institutions and industry leaders, and assembling teams of experts in education to develop exciting programs, camps and curricula to promote careers in the nuclear industry beginning at the middle school level. The 10 MKMF board members have over 225 years combined experience in the nuclear energy industry, with specialties encompassing nuclear energy regulation, naval nuclear reactor operation, nuclear weapons production and testing, and nuclear waste clean-up.
Investing in the Future of Nuclear
As worldwide demand for energy soars, calls for global initiatives to expand production of clean and reliable energy sources are reaching new highs. Based on current U.S. Depart¬ment of Energy projections for a 25 percent increase in U.S. demand for electricity over the next 25 years, between 20-25 new nuclear reactors will need to be built by 2035 simply to maintain nuclear energy’s current percent share of energy generation in the U.S.
Educating the public, and especially our children, on the benefits and potential impacts of nuclear energy has become a major challenge in the wake of the recent Japanese nuclear incidents as we debate quality of life and the future of our energy needs. At the very heart of this debate is the question of viability: Do we have enough technically educated people to safely and effectively carry on the current nuclear energy production levels for the foreseeable future, and is our nation’s nuclear industry positioned to meet the demand for expansion of our nuclear energy capabilities over the next few decades?
A critical shortage in the U.S. of technically educated people capable of driving the growth of our nation’s nuclear energy capabilities has far-reaching and troubling implications not only for the health of our economy but to our national security as well. The quandary the U.S. nuclear industry faces today is that it is expanding at a time when it expects a significant number of its workforce to retire within the next few years.
Last year about 400 students across the country graduated with bachelor’s degrees in nuclear engineering. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission alone wants to hire 400 nuclear engineers each year. This begs the questions, “Who will staff our nation’s nuclear expansion?” “How can we encourage students to explore careers in nuclear and affiliated areas?” “How do we in the U.S. nuclear industry, those who have a vested interest in replenishing our pipeline of talent, actively promote student interest and awareness?”
Dale Klein, former Commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, commented on the importance of reaching students at a younger age to generate interest in nuclear industry careers. “If we don’t start attracting students in junior high and high school we’re going to lose the battle at the college level. We really need to have an education program that starts EARLY.” The MKMF Board responded to Klein’s urgent warning by reaching out to middle school students to build interest in energy careers.
The Work Begins
MKMF has sponsored and funded several exciting initiatives at the middle school level, including a real-time classroom reactor experience and high-tech engineering career exploration camps, with the mission of expanding the pipeline of individuals entering the science, technology, and engineering fields to support our nation’s growing energy needs. Encouraging and nurturing young students with natural interest in high technology is important, but equally important and often overlooked is the importance of recruiting students who may not have otherwise considered a career path in nuclear sciences. These are the students who have not been inspired yet, and MKMF works to reach them through innovative educational programming that highlights the many ways lives are touched by the incredible capabilities and possibilities of nuclear energy.
An MKMF partnership with the University of Wisconsin Reactor Lab brings an interactive nuclear reactor to classrooms anywhere in the country to introduce students to nuclear concepts and give students a more complete and deeper understanding of how nuclear reactors work. After completing a study on nuclear energy, students perform a reactor experiment by communicating live with reactor operators at the University of Wisconsin to ask to see different camera views (e.g., the reactor core, the fuel temperature gauge, power level, etc.) throughout the experiment. Reactor Lab operators “pulse” the reactor and simultaneously students view the temperature gauge, power level generated, and the blue light in the reactor.
Another MKMF project funds scholarships for middle-school age students to attend week-long camps exploring engineering careers in depth. At engineering career exploration camps, students interview NASA engineers and tour factories, power plants and large construction sites to experience first-hand the work of our nation’s engineers and the legacy they create.
About the MKMF Foundation
The MKMF Foundation was established in honor of Michael Krupinski, whose career spanned over three decades in the nuclear industry, with his key achievements in the Weapons Testing and the Waste Management Programs. Before his death in 2006, Krupinski mentored many professionals and small businesses, and expressed a hope that those that came after him would continue the work to secure a new generation of workers for the nuclear industry.
MKMF was founded by a family of engineers and educators forged through connections with Krupinski and deeply committed to expanding the pipeline for the nuclear industry’s future workforce. Krupinski’s rallying cry to coworkers in the face of the many challenges they faced won’t soon be forgotten, “Let’s make a plan!”
MKMF is a 501(c)(3), a not-for-profit entity with a volunteer advisory board composed of members who work directly with educational institutions to establish continuing education and scholarship programs in nuclear engineering and affiliated areas. The Board invites everyone to join them in their efforts by supporting fundraising events sponsored by DeNuke Contracting Services, Inc. and collaborating in internship opportunities.
Upcoming Dutch Uncle Golf Tournament
Two times a year, DeNuke Contracting Services, Inc., hosts a Dutch Uncle Golf Tournament benefitting the MKMF. This year, in concert with the WCM Waste Management & Cleanup Decision Maker’s Forum at Amelia Island (October 11-14), the Dutch Uncle Golf Benefit will take place at the Golf Club at North Hampton (Fernandina Beach, Florida, USA).
About the Authors
Rebecca Van Scyoc is a writer, proposal consultant, mother and wife in Green Lake, Wisconsin, and Secretary of the MKMF Board of Directors. Her planning and coordination with the University of Wisconsin has led to the annual development of hundreds of middle school level students since 2007.
Fred Gardner, CHP is the Founder of DeNuke and ReNuke in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He donates his and his company’s time for managing the two annual golf tournaments and raises awareness of the MKMF through directing and leading the Board’s development initiatives.
Rod Strand, PhD is a nuclear consultant and Chairman of the MKMF Board of Directors. He works to develop new Patrons and Sponsors and is leading the MKMF outreach efforts to large nuclear companies as Benefactors.
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To register for the Dutch Uncle Golf Tournament benefitting the MKMF, or to learn more about Sponsorship opportunities, please click here.
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Limited Number of CP-1 Graphite Sculptures for Sale to Benefit Nuclear Education

The MKMF has received a gift of a small piece of the original graphite from the CP-1 reactor pile at Stagg Field. This historical reactor was the first controlled nuclear fission in history on December 2nd, 1942. Working with Popatomics studios, small pieces of this reactor graphite have been prepared in an artful sculpture which comes with a Certificate of Authenticity and a copy of the book describing the events leading up to the historic experiment on December 2nd, 1942. All proceeds go to the MKMF.
To order a CP-1 Graphite Sculpture, call Heather Jones at 865-813-1408 or email hjones@denuke.com.

To learn more about the Foundation please visit: www.mkmfeducationfund.org