Excited about summer? So are our nuclear interns.

Pictured above: Corey Harpe (second from right) and fellow Brunswick Nuclear Plant interns

Our interns are back this summer for another series of posts about their experiences working with our nuclear team. Each summer, Duke Energy helps college students transition into the workforce by exposing them to careers in the nuclear energy industry through meaningful work.  

Over the next few months, six students – including three new to the nuclear industry as well as a few veteran nuclear interns – will share their insights as interns across our nuclear fleet. In this first post, the interns introduce themselves and what they are looking forward to this summer.


Meet the Rookies

As a Clemson University student minoring in music, Kelsey Bushelman may not seem like your typical Oconee Nuclear Station intern. But as a mechanical engineering major, her skill set fits right in with the nuclear team she’s working with this summer. Working at a nuclear plant has already been an eye-opening experience, as Kelsey explains.

"I wanted this internship so I could dip my toes into a field that I have not been exposed to. Nuclear energy is such a cool thing and often underappreciated, which is something I would love to help change. I had doubts and questions about nuclear and how it worked before I started this internship and I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

However, my first week of training dispelled many myths and answered many questions. For example, I never would have thought that If all the electricity you used for 70 years was generated at nuclear facilities, the used fuel would fit in a soda can.

I have learned more than I could have imagined in just the short three weeks I have been here and I am excited to see what else nuclear energy and the people at Duke Energy have to teach me."

RyMcGuire Nuclear Station intern, Ryan Maxonan
McGuire Nuclear Station intern, Ryan Maxon

Ryan Maxon, is also a mechanical engineering student – and a scholarship athlete on Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University’s baseball team.  Ryan explains how his love of electricity led him to pursue an internship at a nuclear plant.

"I was exposed to large industrial steam and gas turbines at a prior internship and was amazed at the capabilities of these machines. The process of converting water into steam, using the steam to create mechanical energy, using the mechanical energy to generate electricity, and providing electricity to millions of people is truly incredible.

I had very little exposure to nuclear energy prior to arriving at McGuire Nuclear Station. What most people fail to understand is that nuclear is a clean and reliable energy source that has made vast advances in recent history. I have only just begun but I look forward to learning all that I can about nuclear energy throughout this internship."


Brunswick Nuclear Plant intern, Corey Harpe, spends his free time printing, as in 3D printing. “Throughout college, I have designed and built gear trains, phone charging stands, microscope platforms and, of course, that pesky washing machine knob that broke off and went missing,” says Corey. He is now putting his design and engineering skills to good use this summer, working on engineering changes to update design configurations. Although Corey is new to nuclear, he is no stranger to Duke Energy.

"My career with Duke Energy started as a High Energy Piping co-op for the fossil fleet in Florida. During that time, I learned about the inspection process for our steam piping, coal boilers and natural gas plants. I met many exceptional employees and some shared their past experience working in the nuclear industry. Those stories spurred my interest in joining the Nuclear Generation intern program. I’m looking forward to building on my career with Duke Energy and learning as much as I can about the wide-ranging groups of employees that keep Brunswick operating to the highest standards."


Meet the Veterans

Another Clemson tiger, Taylor Jones, is looking to make a positive impact through a second internship at Robinson Nuclear Plant this summer. Working for a different group has provided Taylor with a unique perspective on how nuclear plant systems work.  

"Since last summer, I have switched to a new group. It is interesting to see how the two disciplines overlap and allows for a more well-rounded insight into how various systems function as a unit to achieve the common goal of generating power.

Upon my return to Robinson, I was excited to catch up with those that I worked alongside last summer and to see how things have changed. I look forward to having another amazing summer with Duke Energy and expanding my knowledge of the nuclear industry. I hope to have the opportunity to continue work with some familiar faces as well as with some I did not have the opportunity to work with last year.  This looks to be an exciting few months with many opportunities to learn and grow ahead."

Harris Nuclear Plant intern, Charlotte Mader
Harris Nuclear Plant intern, Charlotte Mader

If you followed our intern blog series last year, the name Charlotte Mader may sound familiar. For two summers, Charlotte interned at Brunswick Nuclear Plant but this summer she finds herself at Harris Nuclear Plant. The senior mechanical engineering student at NC State University credits her school’s career fair with helping her find her niche.

"Prior to my first summer at Brunswick, I was not too familiar with nuclear energy and the positive impact it has on the community.  However, I have always had an interest in energy and power, so this internship allowed me to learn what it was all about.  I am naturally curious and love to learn.  Growing up, I exceled in math and science, which fostered my career path as an engineer.  I originally applied to intern for Duke Energy after speaking with representatives at the NC State Engineering Career Fair.  Little did I know that three summers later I would still be interning for Duke Energy.

Overall, the biggest change since last summer is working on a different type of reactor.  Brunswick is a two-unit boiling water reactor and Harris is a one-unit pressurized water reactor.  Also, this summer I have the opportunity to work in two departments.  I hope this will allow me to grow as a young woman in engineering and continue to learn more about nuclear energy."


Unlike the rest of our intern bloggers, Patrick Rishe is a computer engineering student and is spending his third summer in the Nuclear Generation Intern Program at Duke Energy’s corporate office in Charlotte, N.C. Patrick explains what keeps him coming back to the program each year.

"One of the things that keeps me returning to Duke Energy is the meaningful work and the chance to actually make an impact on the company. This summer I am working on standardizing emergency lighting systems across the fleet. This project gives me an opportunity to directly save the company money and time.

Before the first year I interned with Duke Energy, I knew very little about nuclear energy. I previously thought that there was a lot for magic going on behind closed doors to produce power. Later, I found out that really all nuclear plants do is boil water! To me it is still fascinating that such a small amount of fuel can produce so much energy for so many years. I am really looking forward to seeing what the rest of the summer has to offer."


Comments (1)

Posted June 19, 2017 by Jenny Ward
Welcome interns! (And, welcome back to some of you.) We are thrilled to have you with us this summer. Your talents, curiosity, and contributions are greatly valued. In seeing your faces and reading this blog, it is exciting to think about your experience with us. Thank you for choosing Duke Energy Nuclear!

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