Media Contact: Marty Goolsby
Communications and Media Relations
ORNL to graduate first class in nuclear engineering technology
OAK RIDGE, Tenn., Dec. 8, 1995 On December 21, six employees from the Research Reactors Division of the Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) will be the first graduates to receive associate's degrees through an accredited program that allows ORNL shift workers to earn degrees in nuclear engineering technology without leaving their worksites.
Graduation ceremonies will be held at 10 a.m. in ORNL's Weinberg Auditorium in building 4500 North. Distinguished guests include ORNL Director Al Trivelpiece and Deputy Director Bob Van Hook. The graduates' families will also be invited.
Employees receiving diplomas are Ed Ducko, Butch Fancher, Eric Fogel, Ron Reagan, Kevin Rogers and Kevin Shaw. Not only does the graduation mark a first for Lockheed Martin Energy Systems employees in Oak Ridge, but it is also believed to be the first time a program of this scope has been brought to a DOE national lab.
According to Paul Hughes, training manager in the Research Reactors Division who got the program off the ground in 1992, the opportunity to go back to school and earn a degree while working was not a viable option for reactor operators who did shift work. By contrast, today's workers can attend a fully accredited technical degree program during off-hours to position themselves for possible career advancement. The DOE pays the full cost of tuition and books; employees invest only their time and dedication.
Through an arrangement with American Technical Institute of Memphis, nuclear engineering technology classes are held on-site before and after shift breaks. Instructors come from accredited area educational institutions, including Pellissippi State Technical Community College, Roane State Community College, The University of Tennessee and Knoxville College. The difficulty level of the program rivals many of the best nuclear engineering technology programs in the region.
Several graduates plan to continue pursuing bachelor's degrees over the next two years.
"Although 69 credit hours are required for the associate's degree, many students have already earned 85 to 90 hours toward the 132 needed for the bachelor's degrees," Hughes said. "These degrees will allow them to qualify for promotions into managerial positions with Lockheed Martin Energy Systems that were previously out of reach without a college education."
The nuclear engineering technology degree program is a winning proposition for all involved. Employees gain valuable technical knowledge and a feeling of accomplishment, while Lockheed Martin Energy Systems gets a pool of qualified candidates from which to select when positions become available. "Several students working toward degrees have already moved into managerial positions," Hughes said.
ORNL, one of DOE's multiprogram national research and development facilities, is managed by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, which also manages the Oak Ridge K-25 Site and the Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant.