Pictured above: Oconee Nuclear Station interns ourside nearby Bad Creek Hydro Station
As summer ends for our nuclear interns, we asked them to reflect on their experience at Duke Energy. In case you missed them, you can read the first and second posts written by our interns this summer.
What inspired you?
Ryan Maxon: Seeing the work I performed throughout my internship make a tangible impact on McGuire Nuclear Station was something that inspired me. I was able to assist Design Engineering in reducing the backlog of work and improving the health of the plant. I was also able to represent Design Engineering at meetings to ensure tasks were properly scheduled and executed.
Charlotte Mader: A large source of inspiration this summer has been from my intern coordinators and mentor. From the start, they have helped me feel incredibly welcome at Harris Nuclear Plant while making an effort to get to know me. They have shown a sincere interest in helping me make the most of my summer experience and patiently answered all of my questions. I am so thankful for all of the time they have invested in me and the intern program.
Taylor Jones: The greatest source of inspiration for me this summer has been the engineers with whom I have had the opportunity to work. They have been patient and supportive in teaching me the necessary processes and values of being an engineer at a nuclear facility.
It genuinely inspires me to know that volunteering is a valued part of the company culture.
Corey Harpe: One person who really inspired me was a nuclear engineer who took the time to introduce himself and learn about me. Over the course of the summer, he made sure to check up on me periodically and learn how my projects were going. I really appreciate that he took the initiative.
Kelsey Bushelman: All employees at Duke Energy are afforded 10 work-hours to volunteer and are highly encouraged to do so. I love working with people and don’t want to lose that interaction in my engineering career, so it genuinely inspires me to know that volunteering is a valued part of the company culture. It heightens my desire to ensure that no matter where my path goes, I find a job where I am given the opportunity and encouraged to help someone else.
What surprised you during your internship?
Patrick Rishe: During the summer, I was given many unique opportunities to learn about different areas of our industry. Many experiences involved tours, including trips to the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Westinghouse fuel fabrication facility. One of the most interesting of these was our trip to Catawba Nuclear Station to see how they store used fuel. Dry cask storage is the method used to store the used fuel rods in large concrete containers. It was amazing to me that we could stand 100 feet from the used fuel because it is enclosed in these robust containers.
Ryan Maxon: One thing that surprised me was how many different groups must work together and support each other to operate a nuclear power plant safely and efficiently. One of the best examples of this can be seen with the implementation of an engineering change. Engineering, operations, maintenance, material management and scheduling all have important roles to perform and must collaborate in order to continuously improve the reliability of the equipment in the plant.
Charlotte Mader: I have been pleasantly surprised with how much I have enjoyed Design Engineering this summer. Design has been a change from my past internships and has allowed me to meet many new people. Overall, change seems to be a common theme this summer, from personal change in my internship assignment to changes across the fleet and this has challenged me to maintain an inquisitive and open attitude.
One thing that surprised me was how many different groups must work together and support each other to operate a nuclear power plant safely and efficiently.
Taylor Jones: One aspect of this internship that has surprised me is how I have been able to create and modify work assignments. Writing work requests and managing work orders are examples of how I was able to expand my knowledge of the engineering process and make an impact in my workplace.
Kelsey Bushelman: Engineers can apply their knowledge and skills in a multitude of ways, whether it be hands-on or through a written calculation. Personally, I have always seen engineers, especially mechanical engineers, doing physical work with equipment and tools. However, that has most surprisingly not been the case with my position this summer. The Engineering department in Nuclear Generation typically does not physically handle the systems and components that they work on. Rather, other departments, such as maintenance and operations, perform the repair and operational tasks. What surprises me most is that I was actually not able to see the system I am working on. This experience has shown me just how different engineering can look depending on the job setting.
What would you like to do again?
Patrick Rishe: An experience I would like to have again is lunch with managers and leaders from Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet. We do this every summer and it is a great opportunity to learn more about Duke Energy and the nuclear industry, and even helps with professional development.
Ryan Maxon: One thing I would like to do again is come back to Duke Energy. This summer helped me grow personally and professionally. I learned about the Duke Energy culture, engaged with employees, and was introduced to working at a nuclear power plant. After being here for three months, I feel as though I have only just begun to learn all of the interesting aspects of the nuclear industry and would love to gain more knowledge in the future.
Charlotte Mader: Something that I would like to do again is climb to the top of the containment building to help with an inspection. I have never been afraid of heights, but this was a challenging task. It was such a great experience and the view of the plant was awesome.
Taylor Jones: Given the opportunity, I would like to work with Systems Engineering again. It is fascinating to see how a particular system affects equipment throughout the plant that each serves a particular purpose in creating and sustaining power. This discipline also allows for a great deal of hands-on field experience, which I have enjoyed during my time at Robinson Nuclear Plant.
Corey Harpe: After working with Duke Energy for three years and seeing 10 of the company’s generating facilities, I’ve determined two things: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with Duke Energy and I’m a plant guy. Inspecting equipment and crawling around components is where I’m meant to be.