The first cohort of Denmark Technical College (DTC) students recently graduated after completing the Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) Nuclear Operator Apprenticeship Program and obtaining their DTC Nuclear Fundamentals Certificate. From left to right: Ethan Baurs (Augusta, Ga.), Earl Valentine (New Ellington), Britten Sturkie (Barnwell), Tina Rouse (New Ellington), Philip Marshal Hagan Jr. (Aiken), Kelsey Lewis (Augusta, Ga.) and Michael Williams (Aiken).
The first cohort of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) Nuclear Operator Apprentices from Denmark Technical College (DTC) graduated on Thursday, March 9, after completing their Nuclear Fundamentals Certificate program. This certificate program is part of the Savannah River Site (SRS) Apprenticeship School designed to create qualified full-service employees trained in specific disciplines needed at SRS.
“The SRNS program was established six years ago beginning with Aiken Technical College, but was recently mirrored at DTC with tremendous success,” said David Jackson, SRS Apprenticeship School Program Lead.
SRNS is creating new job opportunities and adding qualified operators to its workforce in collaboration with DTC, a two-year college that primarily serves Bamberg, Barnwell and Allendale counties.
“Denmark Technical College is elated to partner with the Savannah River Site and Apprenticeship Carolina for this revolutionary program that produces highly qualified employees to help fill the workforce pipeline in the nuclear industry, as we continue to put the tech back in Denmark Tech,” said Willie L. Todd Jr., Ph.D., Denmark Technical College President and Chief Executive Officer.
The seven-month program is a unique learning experience with two days at SRS and two days in a DTC classroom. After completing a combination of classroom training, job shadowing and hands-on assignments, the seven graduates will now transition to the SRNS H Canyon facility to apply their skills and knowledge to become fully qualified operators. While receiving a competitive salary and benefits from SRNS, students also gain transferrable college credits almost entirely funded by grants and local partnerships.
“It is a great feeling of accomplishment to be part of this graduating class,” said Kelsey Lewis, operator, SRS H Canyon Outside Facilities. “I put a lot of hours and effort into this program and created such a strong bond with my fellow cohort members. This opportunity created a new path for me to provide for my family and reach new heights in my career.”
Jackson designed the program to inspire students to overcome obstacles while establishing strong workplace relationships with other cohort members. “The curriculum promotes collaboration and bonding. As the students grow individually, they improve the functionality of the entire team. The family-like relationships they build in this setting will carry over to their careers at SRNS.”
Jackson hopes to see further advancements in this partnership with DTC and is always looking for fresh avenues to expand the program. Community members interested in careers in nuclear operations can utilize this opportunity to build a better future for themselves and for generations to come.
SRNS Director Operational Excellence and Quality Assurance Darlene Murdoch provided the commencement address and emphasized the importance of perseverance. “Never turn down an opportunity. If you welcome the challenges and changes you too could be addressing a future cohort of apprentices. The sky is the limit for you at SRNS.”
Denmark Technical College is a two-year Historically Black College in rural Bamberg County, South Carolina. Denmark Tech serves over 700 students with a focus on technical career training, associate degrees and a four-year college transfer program. Additional information about Denmark Tech can be found at www.denmarktech.edu.
• About Savannah River Site Registered Apprenticeships
As an integral partner in the Central Savannah River Area (CSRA), SRNS has established a Registered Apprenticeship Program that currently consists of multiple technical/professional occupations in partnership with Apprenticeship Carolina and the Lower Savannah Council of Governments. Each program is designed to train apprentices on the processes necessary to perform as a qualified full-service employee in a specific discipline. Upon successful completion of the program, participants receive a national, industry recognized and portable credential through the Department of Labor.
• About Savannah River Nuclear Solutions
Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, a Fluor-led company with Newport News Nuclear and Honeywell, is responsible for the management and operations of the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, located near Aiken.