The College of Southern Maryland (CSM) Leonardtown Campus Engineering Student Club toured Exelon’s Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant (CCNPP) to learn about plant operations and career opportunities. The students received a presentation Nov. 8, about nuclear energy in general and on the operations at CCNPP, specifically.
“Plant engineers were able to thoroughly explain the scale that makes Calvert Cliffs the largest source of clean energy in Maryland,” said Club President Tim White. “The students took a tour of the control room, turbine deck and intake structures. They concluded the tour with an on-site luncheon with plant engineers for professional engagement and development allowing the students to listen to the varying academic and industrial paths that the Calvert Cliffs employees had taken throughout their varying engineering backgrounds.”
CCNPP’s two nuclear reactors – the only nuclear energy reactors in Maryland – produce 1,756 megawatts of zero-emissions energy: or enough carbon-free electricity to power more than one million homes, according to Exelon. The Lusby plant joins 95 other nuclear power plants to provide nearly 20 percent of all U.S. electricity. The nuclear energy industry creates lasting, high-paying jobs for people from a wide range of fields and educational backgrounds, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI). Each nuclear power plant in the United States employs between 500 and 1,000 workers during normal operations and they earn salaries 20 percent higher on average than those of other electricity generation sources.
NEI also reports that the nuclear energy industry recruits from universities, community colleges, the military and the trades. From nuclear to systems engineering, from mechanical to civil engineering – engineers make up a large part of the nuclear energy workforce. But there are also opportunities for accountants, analysts, information technology experts, occupational safety and other trained specialists in the field. Carpenters and construction trades workers, electricians, welders and equipment operators are also critical to the industry.
CSM students participating in the tour were both electrical and mechanical engineering majors.
Last year, CSM received a $105,804 grant from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to provide scholarships to 15 students pursuing the college’s Energy Systems Technology (EST) associate degree program. CSM was one of six community colleges in the nation and one of two academic institutions in the state of Maryland to receive NRC funding.
Since the EST’s program’s inception, Exelon has hired 21 students from the EST program. Those 21 CSM alumni have gone on to build careers with Exelon in the fields of electrical, instrument & control and mechanical maintenance, as well as in support of nuclear operations. CCNPP leadership also hosts a 10-week summer program for CSM student interns to rotate through numerous departments at the two-unit plant as part of the EST curriculum.
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