IDAHO FALLS, Idaho – Thirty years ago, Eric Mickelsen, then a young journeyman bricklayer, completed a radiation protection program course at a vocational-technical school where he was laying brick and was quickly hired as a junior radiological control technician at the Hanford Site.
Currently in the twilight of his career, Mickelsen, the Fluor Idaho radiation protection program manager for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site, is hiring graduates from that same program and school, now a community college. Fluor Idaho is EM’s cleanup contractor at the INL Site.
Mickelsen and his staff are helping ensure employees who are close to retiring mentor the new generation of staff members to carry on the EM mission — a need common across the DOE complex.
“The radiation protection program was a life-changing experience for me,” Mickelsen said. “It has provided an incredible and satisfying career, and now to be in a position to help people get a positive start on their career is exciting as well as fulfilling.”
Mickelsen oversees a staff of 245 radiation protection professionals with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to protect their coworkers from radiological hazards while performing waste management and environmental cleanup work. Nearly 90 of those employees graduated from what is now called the College of Eastern Idaho Radiation Protection Program.
Mickelsen and his staff regularly make presentations to the program’s classes, provide radiological instruments for demonstrations and student lab use, and support students while preparing them for an on-the-job practicum — a requirement for graduation.
“All of our radiation protection staff members are advocates for their profession and the EM program in general because we believe in the work we do and the people we protect,” Mickelsen said. “It’s important to mentor the next generation of young professionals if we want to see our radiation protection business continue to prosper as well as the nuclear industry as a whole.”