University of Pittsburgh
October 22, 2008

U.S. Nuclear Power Chief to Discuss Resurgence of Nuclear Energy, Need for Engineers With Pitt Students

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH-The chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will visit the University of Pittsburgh to discuss the recent reemergence of nuclear power as a global energy option and to urge students to help supply the nuclear engineers that will drive its rebirth. Dale E. Klein will address current and prospective Pitt nuclear engineering students Oct. 27 during Pitt's Nuclear Engineering Night, hosted by the Pitt Swanson School of Engineering's nuclear engineering program and featuring representatives from Western Pennsylvania companies specializing in nuclear power. The event begins at 6 p.m. in the auditorium of Pitt's David Lawrence Hall, 3942 Forbes Ave., Oakland, with Klein scheduled to speak at 6:30 p.m.

Klein, a nuclear engineer, heads the federal agency responsible for ensuring the safety of U.S. commercial nuclear power plants during a time of increasing investment and public interest in nuclear power. The NRC is preparing to receive as many as 30 new license applications for plant construction and operation as a result of this resurgence, a perceived "nuclear renaissance" driven by the cost of oil and the political and environmental concerns associated with fossil fuels. As NRC chair, Klein actively encourages students and universities to pursue nuclear engineering to help stem the shortage of nuclear engineers and further nuclear energy's reemergence. The NRC supports such efforts through its Nuclear Education Grants program, which provides funding to build a nuclear engineering curriculum, hire faculty, and offer scholarships. Pitt's Nuclear Engineering Program has received almost $1 million in NRC grants since 2007.

Klein also will discuss Western Pennsylvania's potential as a center of nuclear energy production, research, and education. The region hosts one of the highest concentrations of nuclear power-related companies and experts, including Bechtel Bettis, Inc., which has a research facility in West Mifflin; Westinghouse Electric Company, one of the world's largest vendors of nuclear reactor technology; and FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, which operates the Beaver Valley Power Station nuclear power plant in Shippingport.

Pitt sought to meet these companies' growing demand for employees by establishing Western Pennsylvania's only nuclear engineering graduate and undergraduate certificate programs in 2007. Supported by grants from the NRC and the U.S. Department of Energy, Pitt's nuclear engineering program works closely with experts from local companies in designing and teaching courses to ensure that students receive the most relevant, up-to-date education.

Pitt's Nuclear Engineering Night will provide students with information on Pitt's certificate programs and nuclear engineering scholarships, and an opportunity to learn about careers with such local firms as Westinghouse and FirstEnergy.

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10/23/08/tmw