Will V.C. Summer Abandonment Impact Engineering Students?

USC students will be prepared if construction on two nuclear reactors is restarted.

Columbia, SC (WLTX) -- Many colleges and universities have nuclear training programs or engineering departments. Many of the V.C. Summer employees received their initial training from schools in South Carolina.

"Restarting construction is certainly possible, as long as the utility has the license with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission," said Travis Knight, the director of the nuclear engineering program at the University of South Carolina.

It's been a difficult week and a half for the former employees of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant. Last Monday, SCE&G and Santee Cooper announced it would not complete construction on the project, but there is a possibility that the project could be completed someday.

"Other utilities buying in, federal government support. Whatever form it may be, but it's certainly possible," said Knight.

Knight said there is an immediate impact with the loss of more than five thousand jobs, but he believes those affected will bounce back quickly.

"Nuclear workers are much in demand because they're high skilled," he said.

With the abrupt abandonment of two nuclear reactors, many people are now questioning their next move.

As for the impact the shutdown has on the engineering program at USC: "The opportunities in our own backyard are no longer there, but these folks are well-trained, and they have a very diverse skill set and they're much in demand," said Knight.

According to Knight, a therere 99 operating reactors in the country, and only 20 percent of USC engineering graduates go to work at a utility. 

Despite losing their job at the nuclear site, USC believes their graduates are well prepared for the next step in their career.

"Our nuclear engineers go to work in a number of different fields. These are high quality people, the kind that can land on their feet."

© 2017 WLTX-TV


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