Nuclear tech program to be offered Fall 2011

In partnership with DTE Energy, MCCC will begin offering a nuclear engineering technology program for the 2011 fall semester.

“This program is good for the college, good for DTE Energy and good for jobs,” Jack Davis, the senior vice president and chief nuclear officer of DTE Energy, said.

The development of the nuclear engineering technology program (also known as NUET) began in 2008 when the college was approached by DTE Energy. The company was concerned about an upcoming shortage of qualified workers.

Much of the nuclear energy workforce will be retiring within the next five years, and several job opportunities will be opening up due to a projected shortage of nuclear professionals, according to Dr. Grace Yackee, MCCC vice president of Instruction.

MCCC President David Nixon said he thinks the NUET program’s most beneficial aspect will be the employment possibilities it will offer students.

“I’m most excited about the program for the job opportunities it presents,” Nixon said.

Davis also said he thinks the job opportunities open to NUET graduates will be plentiful.

“The nuclear industry needs well-trained employees, not only to replace those currently in the field, but also in the future. That’s why this is such a forward-looking program.” Davis said.

MCCC students have been able to study nuclear engineering technology since 2008, but only through a partnership with Lakeland Community College of Kirkland, Ohio, and DTE Energy. Previously, LCC granted the degree to students who completed the program, but now MCCC will grant degrees to its students.

MCCC faculty, members of the MCCC curriculum committee and Industrial Tech Division Dean Peter Coomar wrapped up writing the curriculum in December 2010. Six courses were approved by the curriculum committee, according to Nixon.

With approval of the curriculum for the new nuclear courses, it becomes an MCCC program, accredited by the National Nuclear Accrediting Board.

The program will be able to take 20 students a year, according to Nixon. The new Career Technology Center, projected to be completed and open for the 2012-2013 school year, will house the NUET program.

An associate of applied science degree in nuclear engineering technology will be the degree offered at MCCC. The college will create and maintain its own program, with the help of DTE Energy, which puts emphasis on written and oral communication, mathematics, science and technical skills.

“We will be among the 40 odd programs in the country at the AAS level, recognized as being prepared to offer a program by the Nuclear Energy industry,” Coomar said.

“We have the support of DTE Energy and internally have qualified faculty to teach support courses in the program. This will be a feather in our cap as far as new programs go in our division.”

In addition to receiving a diploma, students who achieve a B average (80 percent) or higher in courses that contain core fundamentals and discipline-specific learning objectives will be awarded a certificate from the National Academy for Nuclear Training Branch.

MCCC will be responsible for the staffing and equipment required for the Nuclear Engineering Tech program. Classes will take place on MCCC’s campus, as well as DTE Energy.

DTE Energy will act as a contact for review of the curriculum, like it did with the program at LCC, and may also provide equipment essential to the program.

Enrollment through the partnership with LCC has totaled 80 students since January 2008, according to Mark Hall, director of Admissions.

“We have had two graduating classes with 16 total graduating. I expect another eight to 10 to graduate this spring,” Hall said.

Current students still will have the ability to finish the program through LCC, according to Hall.

“The partnership agreement has expired, however, LCC is committed to finish their current students by the language in the expired agreement,” Hall said.

With MCCC starting its own program, it will act as the degree-granting institution for first-time students, as well as current students in the LCC program who wish to transfer to MCCC.