Nuclear tech program gets $3 million grant

Posted by: Melissa Johnson - bio | email

Dothan, AL (WSFA) - The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded Wallace Community College in Dothan a nearly $3 million dollar grant that will train students to work in nuclear energy.

It's part of a community based job training program that works in close partnership with nearby Farley Nuclear Station

Technology instructor Tony Kelley says he was elated to find out they'd received the money.

And for good reason; he'll soon be teaching a new generation of Nuclear Energy workers.

Kelley said, "The new equipment will provide the students with real world experience and troubleshooting and maintaining the kind of systems that they would be finding in Nuclear plants."

$750,000 of the grant will turn their classrooms into a state of the art laboratory for nuclear energy.

It's an industry that is experiencing nationwide growth, and the need is great in Dothan at Farley Nuclear.

"It's called a graying workforce.  Thirty-five to fifty percent of their workforce will be retiring the next five years, " said Dr. Mike Babb, Dean of Instructional Affairs for Wallace Community College.

Babb said, The jobs are there in the nuclear area.  We have to train our students to be ready for those jobs when they become available.  And when you provide jobs, you provide income, and that permeates the community."

The earning power for these jobs is high.  Students can expect to start out with salaries between $50,000 and $80,000 annually.

Kelley said, "To be able to go through a two year program and be able to make the kind of money that these folks are going to be able to make, it's a great investment.  There are not many programs that are going to be able to offer something comparative to that."

Wallace Community College in Dothan is the only college in the state to offer the program.

$400,000 of that grant will go towards scholarships.

The program starts this fall.

©2010 WSFA. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.