Local high schoolers shadow SRS engineers

February 20, 2024, 9:27AMRadwaste Solutions
Aiken County Public School District students test out a mock glovebox during a tour of the Savannah River Site’s Waste Solidification Building. (Photo: SRNS)

Fifteen area high school students recently completed job shadow experiences with leaders, engineers, and education outreach personnel at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, according to Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS).

Conducted by SRNS, the DOE’s site management and operations contractor, the tour allowed students from the Aiken County Public School District to get an inside look at engineering, facilities, and career opportunities at SRS.

“My hope is for students to walk away from today feeling confident in pursuing a career in engineering,” said Kim Mitchell, Education Outreach Program lead for SRNS. “National Job Shadow Day and National Engineers Week created a perfect opportunity for our engineers to expose students to the different disciplines of engineering in a real-world setting. This experience will bring the next generation of future leaders right back through our gates.”

The tour: Participating students toured the site’s Waste Solidification Building (WSB), which was designed and built as a nuclear facility and subsequently was repurposed for tours and training. According to SRNS, site leaders stressed the importance of workplace, public, and environmental safety during the tour. SRNS engineering managers Carla Wheeler and Will Cosey highlighted the SRS Apprenticeship School, SRNS Internship Program, and additional workforce opportunities for graduating seniors interested in engineering.

The students: Students from Aiken County schools were selected to participate based on their interest in a four-year degree program involving STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Eric Johnson, SRNS director of engineering technical services, served as a mentor and educator, leading students through the WSB facilities while discussing career pathways at the site.

“Hiring, developing, and maintaining engineers is critical to the future of SRS,” said Johnson. “We have a great deal of talent in the local community and recruiting that talent starts with helping students understand their interests and the endless STEM opportunities that exist across the site.”

One of the attending students from South Aiken High School was Johnson’s son, Tyler, who has an interest in mechanical engineering. “My dad has always pushed me to pursue engineering because of the opportunity and variety of work on a day-to-day basis,” said Tyler. “After seeing the site for myself today, I can imagine myself following in his footsteps and joining this workforce.”

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