- Major: Nuclear Engineering
- E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I spent three work terms with Dominion Energy in Richmond, Virginia. Dominion Energy supplies electricity to parts of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Wyoming. All three of my sessions were with the nuclear core design group in the nuclear engineering and fuels department. Dominion's three nuclear plants provide carbon-free, reliable electricity to nearly three million homes across the country. I later went to work a semester for Duke Energy in their nuclear core design group based out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Duke owns 11 operating reactors which supply half of the Carolinas’ power.
Doing a co-op was basically a no-brainer decision for me. My co-op gave me hands-on experience in my field that I could not have received in the classroom alone. In addition to the experience, it provided me with a nice break in my schooling that has really allowed me to finish up my academic curriculum with a strong performance. Finally, I thought that doing a co-op would be a great way for me to represent the University of Tennessee. I love walking around my office and proudly wearing my UT polo shirts, and showing Dominion and Duke what kind of engineers Tennessee has made.
During my second session with Dominion, I spent a week in the control room for one of our units. I was in charge of carrying out the fuel offload and eventually the fuel onload during the unit's planned refueling outage. Every 18-24 months nuclear reactors shut down to refuel their cores; all of the fuel must be removed for any maintenance, and then the new fuel is put into the core. Fuel offload and onload is a specific task that is considered to be critical path, meaning it stands directly in the way of starting the unit back up to generate electricity. Critical path tasks are on a very strict time schedule, so it was extremely important that the fuel moves were executed according to plan.
Participating in a co-op has really shown me the differences between how engineers learn in the classroom and how we apply our teachings in the field. The co-op program is unique in that it not only allows you to apply classroom techniques to real-life problems, but it also allows you to take the problem-solving skills learned on the job and apply them back to your academics when you return to school. It's a really cool opportunity to learn a concept in the classroom, see it applied in real life, and then be able to reapply what you've learned in future classes.
To anyone considering participating in our program, I would say you should 100% consider any co-op opportunity that comes your way. UT's program is well-established so they make sure things are done the correct way. Almost every company offering a co-op has worked with UT in the past so the process is very familiar to them and they will take good care of you.
When I am not busy studying or working, I love going to different sports games, reading, and hanging out with my friends. I'm an avid Vols fan, and I love the Indiana Pacers and Indianapolis Colts.