Winthrop University personnel visit SRS

April 2, 2024, 7:00AMNuclear News
SRNS’s Sean Alford (standing) discusses career opportunities with Winthrop University faculty and staff during a tour of the Savannah River Site. (Photo: SRNS)

Faculty and staff from Winthrop University recently toured the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site as part of a workforce development partnership.

Last year, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), which manages and operates the site, entered into a memorandum of understanding with the university, located in Rock Hill, S.C., to address SRS’s workforce needs.

MOU details: SRNS and Winthrop agreed to partner for students’ paid internships in the areas of information technology; cybersecurity; business operations; and science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). SRNS also donated $5,000 to support students in Winthrop’s Eagle STEM Scholars Program, while SRNS personnel will promote SRS opportunities on Wintrhop’s campus at career fairs and meetings. In addition, SRNS and Winthrop’s Office of Career Development and Internships will jointly provide resume writing and interview preparation workshops for interested students.

SRS visit: During the recent visit to SRS, Winthrop faculty and staff toured the SRNS Environmental Bioassay Laboratory and nuclear materials management and storage facilities. SRS career disciplines, internships, and potential collaborative opportunities for students and faculty were explained.

Sebastian van Delden, Winthrop’s provost and vice president of academic affairs, said that he anticipates a deepened relationship with SRNS. “Our forthcoming strategic plan has a significant focus on community and industry engagement, and providing more experiential learning so our students are ready for real-world opportunities,” he said. “We look forward to our partnership with SRNS in training the next generation of leaders in these fields and enhancing the talent pipeline. It’s a win-win for both organizations.”

Bridging the gap: The agreement with Winthrop marked the 15th such partnership between SRNS and regional colleges, universities, and veterans programs. These partnerships allow SRNS to “bridge the gap between academic study and professional practice,” said Sean Alford, SRNS executive vice president and chief administrative officer. “Together, we can build a stronger workforce to support key missions at SRS.”

Plutonium pit production: One aspect of SRNS activities that stands to benefit from various university partnerships is its Pit Production Operations The National Nuclear Security Administration, in accordance with federal law, must produce and keep war-reserve plutonium pits; the agency has adopted a two-site strategy with SRS and Los Alamos National Laboratory.

For its part, SRS will be establishing and running the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility. About 2,000 employees are expected to be needed in a various occupations to support the operations, and it is anticipated that the project will be ongoing for at least 50 yeras.

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