LOS ALAMOS, N.M.—Nuclear News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos (N3B) and the University of New Mexico-Los Alamos (UNM-LA) have partnered to offer a workforce development program to train participants to become Radiological Control Technicians (RCTs). The program will provide a pathway to obtain employment in one of the many nuclear-based industries across New Mexico.
RCTs are a critical component of nuclear operations. They provide advanced technical support in nuclear safety and establish workplace controls regarding nuclear materials and waste.
“We are excited to continue to expand our workforce development program across Northern New Mexico,” said Glenn Morgan, president of N3B. “These opportunities provide individuals with a roadmap toward a fulfilling career in the demanding field of nuclear operations.”
“UNM-Los Alamos is committed to supporting the community,” said UNM-LA CEO Dr. Cindy Rooney. “It is satisfying to know that we are providing new opportunities, which can change lives for individuals while also supporting the needs of the regional workforce.”
Nine students started the 12-week program on August 12, with classroom instruction on the UNM-LA campus. Dr. Mike Davis, special projects manager for the N3B Training and Apprenticeship Programs, explained, “The curriculum was developed by the Department of Energy (DOE) to make sure RCTs at all sites have the same fundamental knowledge and that expectations are standardized across all DOE sites.”
Darlene Chisholm, acting director for the boot camp, graduated from The Apprentice School in Newport News, Virginia, 35 years ago. She has worked in a variety of positions, including serving as the first female RCT at the Newport News shipyard. She has managed RCTs in operations and production area, served as an instructor and managed leadership and development for Huntington Ingalls Industries, parent company of The Apprentice School and one of the parent companies of N3B. She is the director of Radiological Protection for N3B.
“Students attend classes four days a week and spend one day a week in on-the-job training,” said Chisholm. “They will be in the field at sites across Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), where N3B is responsible for cleanup. Students will observe operations and work with instruments. They have the opportunity to experience the day to day work and learn along the way.”
The students all voiced their appreciation for the opportunity to participate in the program. David Abrams, who has a degree in Geology and has completed the New Mexico Environmental Job Training Program at Santa Fe Community College, said, “I’m looking forward to working as an RCT. I believe this experience will lead to other career opportunities.”
Josh Sandoval commented, “I worked at the hospital and liked the job, but I had tapped out. With this program, doors are opening.”
Students were recruited and selected for the program by N3B. Their employment begins with the 12-week training, and they have agreed to work for N3B for one year. Participants will have the necessary knowledge and skills to apply for multiple jobs at N3B, LANL and elsewhere in the future.
“I really like what we’re doing as a company,” Chisholm said. “The N3B vision statement says, ‘N3B is a highly desirable place to work, creating opportunity and growth for employees and partnering with the community.’ We’re cleaning up the environment, we’re reaching out to the community, and we’re protecting our future.”
Newport News Nuclear BWXT Los Alamos is a limited liability company owned by HII Technical Services Division, a subsidiary of Huntington Ingalls Industries, and BWX Technologies. N3B manages the $1.38 billion, 10-year Los Alamos Legacy Cleanup Contract at the Los Alamos National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, Los Alamos Field Office.
The University of New Mexico–Los Alamos is an innovative, rigorous, and affordable comprehensive branch community college that provides foundations for transfer, leading-edge career programs, and lifelong learning opportunities. UNM-LA has strong ties to the Los Alamos community and the Los Alamos National Laboratory that create unique educational and professional opportunities for the students. In addition to the RCT training partnership, UNM-LA offers 27 degrees and certificate programs.