In general, one might expect colleges not far apart to be fully competitive.When it comes to the nuclear workforce, Aiken Technical College, USC Aiken and three other colleges are collaborating closely in training the region’s nuclear workforce.That effort was recognized by the Charlotte Business Journal, which selected ATC President Dr. Susan Winsor as a winner of the 2013 Energy Leadership Award.Winsor was among 10 community and industry leaders honored at the Journal’s luncheon in Charlotte, N.C., last week. Winsor’s nomination, cited in a press release, noted her service as chair of the regional Nuclear Workforce Initiative. NWI collaborates with the other colleges through the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization.The other colleges are Georgia Regents University, Augusta Technical College and USC Salkehatchie in Allendale. The five colleges, Winsor said, chose to concentrate on separate, nuclear-based programs and not compete with each other with identical programs.“This really is a pretty unusual agreement for colleges in a region to agree to,” Winsor said. “It’s been a good relationship and a favorable one for employers, helping them gain the employees that can provide a broader aspect of initiatives.”She pointed out that many other people are involved in the award recognition. Mindy Mets serves as program manager for the SRSCRO – a program that seeks and promotes new economic development opportunities.“It’s exciting to see this award and it’s well-deserved among a prestigious group,” Mets said. “Dr. Winsor’s vision and leadership go much more broadly than Aiken Technical College. Our region is known nationally for its nuclear expertise and training that’s going on here.”That seems apparent, as the Aiken-Augusta area will host National Nuclear Science Week in October 2013.“That’s an example of what has grown out of our region,” Winsor said. “This will spotlight the region as a whole.”The SRSCRO was established in 2009. A year earlier, ATC started a radiation protection technology program.
The press release added that Winsor was also recognized for the planned construction of a Center for Energy and Advanced Manufacturing at Aiken Tech.USCA also has established a nuclear workforce-related course through the NWI. Dr. Michele Harmon teaches an environmental and remediation program, with funding obtained through the Department of Energy. This course of study is Harmon’s specialty from her graduate work at the Savannah River National Lab. Now in its second year, the program already has 13 students.“They can get a biology degree through the environmental and remediation program,” Harmon said. “We have undergraduate research opportunities in that area. In our DOE facility, we still have a lot of legacy material. Really, our mission at SRS is remediation and cleanup, and we hope our students will see that opportunity at SRS.”The strategy provides the chance to build a pipeline for entry into the workforce, said Winsor.“It allows our colleges to invest in excellence in core competencies,” she said. “By not diluting the same programs, it helps carry the burden … giving us a range of certain skill sets.”