The Next Big Workforce: Nuclear Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy puts $60 million into training the next generation's nuclear energy leaders.

According to a news release from the Department of Energy, $60 million has been promised for "nuclear energy research awards and improvements to university research reactors and infrastructure." The awards—which total 91—also aim to help train the next gen of nuclear industry leaders, as more than 25,000 jobs will need to be filled in the field by 2015.

Since 2009, the DOE has given nearly $290 million to 90 universities in the United States in an attempt to properly train nuclear engineers for the workforce, according to the news release. As part of the newly promised $60 million, $42 million will go to supporting university-led research and development projects, $9 million through the Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies Program for research and development projects, $5 million to 15 colleges/universities for research on reactor and infrastructure improvements, and $5 million for a "multilateral nuclear energy research project to test the long-term behavior of advanced reactor materials under radiation."

The 91 awards come along with Obama's Climate Action Plan for clean energy innovation. The goal to properly train the next generation of workers is particularly salient because 30 percent of current nuclear energy industry workers will be eligible for retirement in the next couple of years.

Sample projects include one from the University of South Carolina that will develop an advanced nuclear fuel that can operate at a low temp and store less energy, as well as one from Iowa State that supports "design and component performance validation for small modular reactors."

For more information, visit http://energy.gov/articles/energy-department-invests-60-million-train-next-generation-nuclear-energy-leaders-pioneer

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