New Projects, Nuclear

Texas establishes Nuclear Power Institute

Establishment of a Nuclear Power Institute (NPI)—a cooperative effort of Texas A&M’s Dwight Look College of Engineering, the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), and other organizations around the state—was approved in early December by the governing board of Texas A&M University System.

In particular, NPI activities will support state-wide recruiting efforts for nuclear power-related programs. The partnership includes Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University-Kingsville, Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and Prairie View A&M University, as well as several community colleges, the Texas State Technical College, the Texas Workforce Commission, civic leaders and high schools.

Plans call for the Nuclear Power Institute to manage a state-wide effort to provide more than 2,000 engineers and technicians needed to staff and operate at least six new nuclear power plants in Texas scheduled to go into operation over the next ten years. The staff needed to operate the additional reactors and generating plants will include technicians with two-year technical degrees, nuclear engineers and engineers in other engineering specialties.

“The Texas A&M University System is uniquely configured with the ideal combination of education, research and service agencies and universities to lead this effort,” said Dr. Kemble Bennett, vice chancellor and dean of engineering. “The institute will make a significant impact upon the workforce and economy of the state and nation.”
The NPI will oversee expansion of curricula in high schools, junior colleges and four-year institutions to prepare graduates to enter nuclear power-related fields. The institute also will develop recruiting programs aimed at attracting students into fields that would prepare them to enter the nuclear power industry.

South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co (STPNOC), Luminant (formerly TXU) and Exelon Corp have announced plans to construct six new nuclear power plants in Texas over the next decade.

“The Texas Engineering Experiment Station is the right organization to bring together academic education and training and the nuclear power industry,” said Lee Peddicord, a professor of nuclear engineering at Texas A&M and director of TEES. He added, “The next years will be an exciting time for nuclear power in Texas. We’re glad to be part of it.”