Nuclear Intern Projects Make a Lasting Impact

What exactly does a nuclear intern do? For the third post in our summer nuclear intern series, we asked our interns to discuss what they are working on over the summer. In case you missed it, you can read the previous post here.

Describe the project you’re working on this summer.

Stephanie Teo: For my big summer project, I’m revising a technical paper, along with all its calculations. I’m exchanging heavier portable area radiation monitors for lighter, more compact ones, which will allow the Radiation Protection staff to carry much lighter equipment in the future.

Neal Dev: A current project I am working on involves creating a code in Excel which reads reactor core parameters and automatically completes a checklist of information based on the data.

Matt Humphrey: My projects have all been related to streamlining the McGuire Nuclear Station preventive maintenance program. Currently, there are several crews actively working on preventive maintenance jobs that could be done more efficiently. Identifying these jobs can help save the company a large number of man-hours. The project has required me to wade through spreadsheets searching for information that could help us make recommendations regarding these jobs.

Michael Tuten: I am helping update the Emergency Response Organization Response System so that all notification messages are consistent across the six nuclear plants. I’ve been responsible for creating and entering the messages for the new system. Once the new system is implemented, an employee trained for one nuclear plant now knows the emergency procedures for all six. I’m also involved in updating the form that’s used to communicate with local, state and federal agencies in the unlikely event of an emergency. This is another project that allows for all six sites to use the same procedure, which simplifies training and operations.

A picture of the Emergency Operations Facility where Michael is interning
A picture of the Emergency Operations Facility where Michael is interning

Charlotte Mader: My primary project last summer included developing a plan to mitigate excess foam in Brunswick Nuclear Plant’s discharge canal. Although the foam is harmless and natural, passersby may assume it is harmful because it is from a nuclear plant. After some research and investigation, I learned  the foam is caused by natural turbulence when the water is discharged into the canal. This is similar to the foam created when a wave crashes onto a beach.

What has been most rewarding about your project?

Stephanie Teo: The best part is I am able to make an impact on the department as an intern. I have the unique opportunity to talk to almost everyone around the office and the Radiation Protection staff is always more than happy to discuss theories and answer my questions.

“The best part is I am able to make an impact as an intern to the department.”

Neal Dev: I find the project exciting since I enjoy coding and feel like the project really benefits the group.

Charlotte Mader: I was able to implement a trial of my project (pictured below), which was so exciting. Recently, the plant went through with my design and bought the containment boom.  The proposed plan is to have it installed within the next year.

The discharge canal at Brunswick Nuclear Plant where Charlotte’s project is being tested
The discharge canal at Brunswick Nuclear Plant where Charlotte’s project is being tested
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome these?

Stephanie Teo: Some challenges have been learning how to use new computer programs, as well as dissecting the paper in attempts to understand the thought process of the original writer. Not being able to ask “what is your thought process behind this” has been the most difficult. In order to complete this project, I have been using my communication skills, computer software background and, most importantly, my problem solving skills.

“I also learned a lot about proper communication, problem solving and the importance of thinking outside the box. “

Matt Humphrey: One of the hardest parts about my assignment is finding the data needed to properly analyze the value of individual preventive maintenance jobs. There are numerous occasions where the reports available to me have not provided me with enough information, so I have also taught myself how to use Microsoft Access to consolidate the data in a user-friendly way.

Charlotte Mader: There were a number of challenges, especially as I have continued with the project this summer. I quickly learned that it takes many different people from other departments to get one project completed.  I also learned a lot about proper communication, problem solving, and the importance of thinking outside the box.