DALLAS – Gaston College will partner with Duke Energy to begin a program that prepares graduates for employment in the nuclear power industry, pending state approval.

The Nuclear Technology Program will help students become entry-level power industry technicians and advance into other industrial engineering technician positions within the commercial nuclear power industry.

Nuclear technicians monitor the conditions inside equipment that operates nuclear power plants. These technicians assist engineers with power plant or energy facilities operations.

Graduates will earn an associate of applied science degree in nuclear technology and possibly certification from Duke Energy.

“The certification verifies the level of knowledge and understanding of the person, and therefore, allows the power company to bypass about four months of otherwise required training,” said Virgil Cox, dean of engineering and industrial technologies for the college.

Coursework will include slightly less than 76 credits in physics, math, chemistry, nuclear technology, fluids, thermodynamics, electricity and control systems. Students also will participate in 320 co-op hours with Duke Energy.

Cox, who is also the chief educational technology officer for Gaston College, said employment in the nuclear power industry is growing as workers retire.

“We are getting to the point where the existing pool of nuclear energy workers are beginning to exit into retirement, and so we are now in the position where the influx of partially or even fully trained people into that business no longer keeps up with the needs of the energy companies,” Cox said.

For more information about the Nuclear Technology Program, email Cox at cox.virgil@gaston.edu.