OREM, UCOR, HBCUs Expand Partnerships to Build Future Workforce

Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 46; Contributor: Wayne McKinney | November 23, 2021

DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its contractor UCOR are expanding partnerships with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

UCOR’s latest agreements with two HBCUs provide students new educational and professional opportunities and offer Oak Ridge and its contractors greater exposure to attract top talent.

UCOR most recently entered agreements with Tennessee State University (TSU) in Nashville, Tennessee, and Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. The goal is to help build a pipeline of qualified candidates for cleanup work at Oak Ridge and other sites across the EM complex.

“HBCUs are playing an important role in training the next-generation workforce,” OREM Acting Manager Laura Wilkerson said. “We are continually taking steps to find students with the talent and skills required to build a diverse workforce that is up to the challenge of delivering innovative solutions to EM’s challenging work.”

UCOR recently presented TSU with a $25,000 donation to help fund education and training for engineers. Members of UCOR’s team also served as guest speakers for two classes in the university’s engineering department, providing an overview of Oak Ridge’s EM program and career opportunities at UCOR.

Under a memorandum of understanding between UCOR and TSU, the partners are working together to identify research, training, and education opportunities and to promote internships and mentoring that enrich the educational experiences of participating students.

“Tennessee State University is grateful to UCOR for this new partnership, and for their generous donation to our college of engineering,” TSU President Glenda Glover said. “Our students will have access to Oak Ridge environmental management experts and opportunities for internships and career growth in this exciting field.”

At Benedict College, UCOR will provide guest lecturers, host site tours, and arrange for co-ops and internships. A co-op, or cooperative education, balances classroom theory with practical, hands-on experience.

The contractor will also participate in advisory councils and assist with curriculum development with the college. The agreement also envisions the creation of courses and programs leading to credentials and certifications — similar to when UCOR helped create the nation’s first nuclear decommissioning minor degree with the University of Tennessee. The new partnership also includes assistance with developing student chapters of professional organizations.

“These partnership agreements continue to enhance our outreach efforts and expand employment opportunities in environmental cleanup across the Oak Ridge Reservation,” Ken Rueter, UCOR president and CEO, said. “HBCUs are a rich resource for qualified professionals in engineering, environmental science, information technology, and a number of other disciplines we depend on to deliver mission success for the Department of Energy.”