Many science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students have jump-started their careers at SRS through summer internships with Savannah River Remediation (SRR) since the company began its liquid waste contract at SRS in 2009.
Now, SRR is retaining more interns who are good matches for the company using the Technical Student Program (TSP). It allows select students to stay employed with SRR after their internships to complete training and work while they are still in college.
As they work toward finishing school, the students remain part-time employees of SRR, reducing the time it takes to become SRR-qualified engineers from one year to six months. Once the students become full-time employees, they can obtain additional qualifications.
The TSP provides students with a clear path from summer internships to engineering positions, according to Frank Armstead, an engineer at the site’s Defense Waste Processing Facility who helped create the initiative.
“This program has three main goals: reduce the time it takes for new hires to obtain facility-specific qualifications, allow engineers to gain experience through mentorship, and provide SRR with a pipeline of talent that has the right training to take on high-demand engineering functions,” Armstead said.
Four students are currently pursuing STEM degrees in the TSP. Connor Hess, a senior mechanical engineering major at the University of South Carolina, said he looks forward to gaining work experience in the engineering field.
“This program has a lot of great aspects,” Hess said. “I’m getting an early start on my career while taking essential job training, learning from experienced engineers, and getting paid while I’m still in college.”
The program does more than just improve the hiring process; it allows students to fully integrate into the team at the onset of their careers, providing substantial benefit to the students, SRR, and EM, SRR President and Project Manager Phil Breidenbach said.
“Savannah River Remediation’s core values of safety, integrity, ownership, teamwork, and continuous improvement are instilled into students early through their internships and the Technical Student Program,” Breidenbach said. “I’m eager to see these students combine their classroom and internship knowledge as they work to successfully execute our mission.”
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