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Nuclear Energy Industry Provided $10 Million for Higher Education in 2012

Oct. 17, 2013—Nuclear energy companies last year provided more than $10 million for education programs, supporting both universities and community colleges.

NEI’s 2013 Workforce Pipeline Survey, which asked companies to categorize their academic funding, showed the industry providing a total of $10.54 million, with more than $7.5 million going to universities and nearly $3 million to community colleges.

The largest amount ($7,212,320) funded internships for university and community college students, with the second largest sum ($1,275,000) going for equipment purchases at community colleges. Several companies offered their employees as teachers and lecturers, particularly at the community college level.

The federal government also provided financial support for community colleges last year, with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and U.S. Department of Labor providing a total of $5.26 million to community colleges with nuclear technology programs.

By contrast, funding from the Energy Department for similar programs ($66 million in 2012) focused on graduate research, university-focused scholarships and fellowships, and faculty development grants. DOE committed no funds to community college programs, even though DOE laboratories employ nuclear technicians and mechanics, often trained at community colleges.

Randall Edington, the nuclear energy industry’s executive sponsor for workforce development, noted the industry’s recognition of the importance of community colleges in meeting the industry’s workforce needs. “We encourage the Energy Department to consider this significance in its future grants,” he said. 

Elizabeth McAndrew-Benavides, NEI’s senior manager for strategic workforce initiatives, said DOE’s lack of support for community colleges might come from a lack of understanding by some government employees of the number of nuclear technicians and mechanics the government employs.

See Nuclear Energy Overview, Aug. 22, for information on the NRC’s funding for education programs in 2012 and Nuclear Energy Overview, Oct. 1, for more on DOE’s education funding.