The nuclear industry faces a generation gap. A lot of the people who run nuclear power plants are nearing retirement. Now the Obama Administration has awarded $6.3 million to Northwest universities to help train the next generation of nuclear leaders.
Donald Wall directs Washington State University’s Nuclear Radiation Center in Pullman. The reactor is surrounded by the university’s golf course.
“I like to joke that WSU features probably the only golf course in the world that has a nuclear hazard.”
Wall says his new $144,000 grant awarded by the federal Department of Energy will help update the research reactor’s monitoring systems. That will enable his students to run more sophisticated tests.
He says the nuclear industry is scrambling to prepare for a mass-retirement of many highly-trained staff.
“There is really a demand for more people than we can possibly supply,” Wall says.
The money going to Northwest universities will go toward new equipment, research and to help students pay for their education.