Three University of Missouri-Rolla students recently became the second group of undergraduate students to become certified as nuclear reactor operators through a new training program.
This addition brings to six the number of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)-certified reactor operators on UMR’s campus. The NRC is an independent federal agency established by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 to regulate civilian use of nuclear power plants and materials.
The newly licensed operators will power up the UMR Reactor for tours (about 3,000 people a year tour the facility), irradiate samples for research, perform routine checks of the reactor and train others to be certified nuclear reactor operators. Jim Jackson, senior lab mechanic and senior reactor operator at UMR, initiated this training program successfully and was responsible for training the group, says Dr. Akira Tokuhiro, assistant professor of nuclear engineering and director of the nuclear reactor.
To become certified, the students had to pass a three-part written examination, based on reactor theory, standard operating procedures, emergency planning, technical specifications and the safety analysis report. The hands-on part of the exam requires answering questions verbally and demonstrating how various systems of the reactor function. The students took the test in September and just received the results.
The newly certified students are Kurt Koch of Arnold, Mo., a senior in physics; Michelle Minard of Chesterfield, Mo., a junior in nuclear engineering; and Hannah Yount of Omaha, Neb., a junior in nuclear engineering.