The Nuclear Industry through the Eyes of an Intern

05 Nov, 2012

[Approx. Read Time: 3 minutes]

Adam Lineberry, NAYGN Member

For the past few months, I have been working as a summer intern for Bechtel Power on the Generation mPower project. During the school year, I spend my time as a graduate student pursuing a Master’s degree in civil/structural engineering at Georgia Tech.  As the summer and my internship draw to an end, I think back to everything I’ve learned and the amazing experiences I’ve had in the last three months.  Bechtel has proven to be a company dedicated to developing its future talent, and the internship program I’ve been a part of this summer has included several highly-involved events, such as plant visits and Executive panels, geared toward educating the interns on topics such as Bechtel’s culture and values, career paths, and the power generation industry.

For this summer, I was assigned to the Generation mPower project: a joint venture between Babcock & Wilcox mPower and Bechtel Power.  The Generation mPower Plant is truly a first-of-a-kind small modular reactor (SMR) design.  The cutting-edge SMR technology shows promise as the future of the nuclear industry by offering many advantages over traditional nuclear energy facilities, such as low start-up costs, quick construction time, and scalability to meet power generation needs.  Being part of such a large team of individuals, all well-respected in their fields and dedicated on a daily basis to developing this new technology, has been a fun and enriching experience.

In addition to my work as a civil engineer on mPower, I became very involved with our local NAYGN Chapter (Bechtel – Frederick).  I was fortunate enough to attend the NAYGN Atlantic Regional Conference, which was hosted by our very own Bechtel Chapter.  The conference was a great opportunity to hear from industry leaders about the current state of the nuclear industry, the challenges it faces, and how it plans to overcome these challenges.  The conference was also a great venue to meet and network with professionals working for operators, vendors, and utilities.  I went into the conference not knowing what to expect, and I left with the general feeling of being “plugged into” the current affairs of the nuclear industry.

The insight I’ve gained throughout the course of my internship leads me to the conclusion that nuclear will grow and prosper in future years as it continues to serve the world as the only clean, reliable, and low-cost energy source.  I’m looking forward to joining the ranks of the nuclear industry, and I’m excited about the career opportunities it has to offer. Here are some snapshots of the first-of-a-kind Generation mPower plant I have had a part in designing over the past few months – I hope the pictures are as exciting to those not working on the project as much as they are to us working on it every day!

Cutaway view of the mPower facility. Notice that most of the plant is located below ground.

Layout of the mPower plant. The design is underground, in comparison to typical above-grade nuclear energy facilities. Notice the absence of containment domes and cooling towers.

Cutaway of the mPower reactor. Babcock & Wilcox has developed a revolutionary reactor design which incorporates the steam generators and the reactor core within the same module.

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