Photo: Martin Isoler, third from top left, with fellow leaders of the Duke Energy North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) chapter at a 2018 meeting.
More than 45 years after Mike Wesson started work at Duke Power as a junior designer, Martin Isoler stepped foot in Catawba Nuclear Station as an intern in electrical design. NASA's Horizon spacecraft completed the first-ever flyby of Pluto. The median household income was $56,516. Super Bowl XLIX broke the record of most-watched broadcast in U.S. TV history.
Originally from Argentina, Isoler grew up in Lincolnton, NC, graduating from Lincolnton High School in 2004 and UNC Charlotte 12 years later. Before receiving his Bachelors in Electrical Engineering, which, Isoler notes “took a lot of hard work, dedication and many sleep-deprived nights,” he held various jobs including one as a fast food restaurant worker and another as a milling machine programmer.
Isoler benefited from growing up in a nuclear plant community. “In the area where I lived, Duke Energy, especially McGuire Nuclear Station, has a big presence and a great reputation. My friends and family are proud that I have the opportunity to work in the nuclear industry,” he says.
Living in proximity to a nuclear plant and hearing stories from those who worked there, sparked his interest in working at one. His enthusiasm even extended to movies and TV featuring nuclear plants, although working at a nuclear plant, he quickly realized how unrealistic most pop culture portrayals of nuclear energy are.
But no movie or employee story could prepare Isoler for his first day as an intern. “I remember feeling a little nervous right before my first walkdown at Catawba Nuclear Station. I tried to absorb as much as I could but I realized just how complex a nuclear power plant is.”
Despite the steep learning curve, Isoler immediately felt at home at the plant. “Everyone has welcomed me and is very attentive, I feel like I became part of the Duke Energy family from day one.” He credits the experience of his co-workers and their willingness to share their knowledge – often more than 30 years’ worth – with helping him transition into his role as an electrical design engineer. Of course, Isoler admits, not everything was easily transferable. “I never realized how many acronyms I was going to have to learn,” he jokes. “Remembering them all sure is a challenge.”
After interning at Catawba Nuclear Station, Isoler also interned at McGuire Nuclear Station before landing a permanent job as part of the Electrical Design team there, where he works today. He enjoys the challenges of working at a nuclear plant noting that “every day is a learning opportunity.” Just as others passed on their knowledge to him, he looks forward to being a mentor. “Hopefully one day I will be the one passing down 30+ years of knowledge into a hungry new mind making its way into the industry.”
Given his plans to stay in the industry until retirement, it’s no surprise that Isoler is optimistic about the future of nuclear energy. “The quest to reduce carbon emissions and meet the energy demands of the future cannot happen without the help of nuclear energy.”