Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 12; Contributor: Wayne McKinney | March 30, 2021

Developing the cleanup workforce of tomorrow requires time and an emphasis and investment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.

To reach that goal, Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR is continuing its commitment to STEM education in the community, adding two new educational endeavors to its list of programs focused on reaching and educating students ranging from middle school to tradecommunity colleges and universities.

A recent $50,000 donation to Roane State Community College will support two STEM programs. Part of the donation will be used to purchase equipment for the college’s chemical engineering technology laboratory. UCOR also currently supports an apprenticeship program for second-year students pursuing a focus in chemical engineering technology at the school. In the past two years, UCOR has provided apprenticeships to eight students, and those who successfully complete the apprenticeships are offered jobs with the contractor. The remainder of the donation will support a new apprenticeship effort in the Environmental Health Technology Program.

“STEM education is key to ensuring a pipeline of trained, skilled workers in the future,” said Charlie Malarkey, UCOR administrative services manager. “This apprenticeship program is another cog in our multi-faceted machinery to build the future cleanup workforce.”

UCOR also donated $80,000 to purchase 100 laptops for Oak Ridge schools. With virtual classrooms being the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, this donation is helping keep kids on track in their studies and enables continued participation in STEM programs.

“We are proud to belong to a community that values academic excellence and is excited to support Oak Ridge schools during these unprecedented times,” said Sonya Johnson, UCOR manager of communications, community, diversity and workforce development programs. “Our donations to these and many other STEM efforts provide local students the skills and training necessary to position themselves for educational and career excellence.”

Other active STEM programs include awarding annual mini-grants to local teachers, employee volunteering in schools to discuss STEM-related careers, and sponsoring the first deactivation and demolition program in the country for nuclear engineering students at the University of Tennessee.

For more information about additional STEM and workforce efforts at DOE, visit STEM Rising.