- Major: Nuclear Engineering
- Company: Southern Company
- E-mail: email@example.com
I worked all 3 of my co-op rotations with Southern Company at Plant Farley in Dothan, AL. Southern Company generates electricity for a large part of the south-east and Plant Farley of one of their three nuclear sites. I did two rotations in reactor engineering which is responsible for monitoring and managing special nuclear material at all stages of its life cycle. I also did one rotation in mechanical systems where I worked with many of the other systems that make up a nuclear power plant such as the reactor coolant system, auxiliary feedwater system, and main steam supply.
The nuclear power field is smaller than many other engineering disciplines and experience at an operating plant is held in high regard, especially for new engineering graduates. As someone that wants to go into nuclear power generation, getting experience at a plant reaffirmed my choice of career path. Additionally, I have been able to directly apply what I have learned at work to my class work.
During my second co-op rotation in reactor engineering, Farley had a refueling outage. This is a time when one of the two units is brought down to zero power, refueled, and maintenance is performed that cannot be done during normal operation. One activity that reactor engineering does during a refueling outage is visually inspect new nuclear fuel assemblies. Not many college students can say that they have touched uranium fuel! Being in the co-op program I took on many of the duties that full-time engineers are responsible for. As a result, I developed skills that I otherwise would not have gained from school alone. Often times we are given problems in our engineering classes and told to find an answer given a few parameters. This is rarely how problems are presented in industry. Problems frequently have many correct answers and even more ways to arrive at those answers. I learned how to gather information from a variety of resources and draw conclusions from the gathered information.
Co-op assignments are the best way to maximize your education as an undergraduate. The lessons you will learn about teamwork, accountability, and time management will better prepare you to enter the workforce. Additionally, employers highly value co-op experience which will give you an enormous advantage over your peers when you graduate.
I enjoy running, hiking, mountain biking, and cooking during my free time. If I am not doing school work or any of these activities you will probably find me hanging out at home on the couch with my dog.