Some 25 Southern Company co-op students -- working for a variety of Southern Company and Georgia Power organizations -- traveled to Plant Vogtle to see firsthand the two operating units and the two units under construction. The tour was arranged by Vogtle 1&2 co-op Alexandra Avera, who also serves as the summer 2018 Vogtle site liaison for the Students of Southern Company organization.
“I thought it was important for the co-ops and interns to see Vogtle 3&4,” Avera says. “It’s the biggest project that Southern Company is working on right now and not many of the students know much about it.”
The college co-ops and interns experienced much of what can be seen at Plant Vogtle with general tours of the Vogtle site and up-close interactions inside the Vogtle 1&2 and Vogtle 3&4 control room training simulators.
“We were able to see the differences in the control rooms between units 1&2 and units 3&4,” Avera continues. “In each training control room, a volunteer tripped the unit and simulated what an operator would do in that situation. Many asked questions about the different steps operators have to take when something happens in the plant. The students’ overall impression was that the nuclear industry is very safe and regulated.”
Southern Nuclear CEO Steve Kuczynski provided the group with updates on the company, industry and Plant Vogtle, and shared some of his career experiences.
“His talk was one of the most inspiring I’ve heard as a co-op,” Avera says. “I am very grateful he took the time to speak with us as a group and also talk to students one-on-one. I asked him for some advice about overcoming adversities. He said to find a mentor to learn from and develop a strong relationship with them, and that the best place to learn and develop is on the job, not through a book.
“Steve also spoke a lot about Gen IV reactors and how excited he is to see more development in that technology. His passion while speaking about new nuclear technology really stuck with me, and it inspired me to continue developing as a nuclear professional.”
Many of the co-ops and interns have worked for the company for more than one rotation. The program provides valuable experience for the college students and hands-on support for the company.