Columbia Basin College President Rebekah Woods, left, and student ambassador Megan Holm, center, lead Washington River Protection Solutions President and Project Manager Wes Bryan on a tour of the college campus in Pasco, Washington.
Columbia Basin College President Rebekah Woods, left, and student ambassador Megan Holm, center, lead Washington River Protection Solutions President and Project Manager Wes Bryan on a tour of the college campus in Pasco, Washington.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Adding to the growing list of cooperative, or co-op, programs with colleges and universities, U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (EM) Office of River Protection (ORP) contractor Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) has launched a new pathway to jobs on the Hanford Site.

The goal is to prepare the next generation of Hanford Site workers to replace retirees. WRPS worked with Columbia Basin College (CBC), a local community college that offers two- and four-year degree programs, to provide paid internships in chosen career fields, including everything from project management and information technology to engineering and human resources.

“Students who apply to the program need to have a minimum 2.0 grade point average and must be enrolled full time in a bachelor’s or associate degree program at CBC,” said Amy Hayfield, manager of Workforce Resources at WRPS. “We’re excited to welcome our first round of interns at the beginning of the new year.”

Career Services team members at Columbia Basin College talk with a student at a recent event to recruit students for the Pathways to Hanford program

Career Services team members at Columbia Basin College talk with a student at a recent event to recruit students for the Pathways to Hanford program, a customized program that brings awareness to degrees, certifications and internship programs that provide training for jobs at the Hanford Site. Photo courtesy of Columbia Basin College.

Co-op interns will work at least 20 hours a week while completing their educations, with the potential to work full-time hours in the summer. The internships could lead to full-time employment when they graduate.

“This is the future of workforce development,” said Delmar Noyes, ORP assistant manager for Tank Farms. “Integrating a new generation of employees that can learn from the current workforce is vital for complex missions like those at the Hanford Site.”

CBC offers project management, nuclear technology and occupational health and safety certificate and degree programs tailored to meet EM’s needs at the site.

Washington River Protection Solutions Workforce Resources Manager Amy Hayfield speaks to a group of students in July taking part in summer and cooperative internships.
Washington River Protection Solutions Workforce Resources Manager Amy Hayfield speaks to a group of students in July taking part in summer and cooperative internships.

“Our students recognize this unique opportunity to kick-start a career while completing their degrees,” said Elie Hernandez, director of Career Services at CBC.

The CBC internship co-op is patterned after a similar program WRPS established with Washington State University’s campus in Richland. The first students from that internship started working over the summer and a few co-op interns have already accepted full-time jobs with WRPS.