Customized Training Creates Revenue
A nuclear energy workforce development program brings additional revenue to Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, Ohio.
Like the institutions mentioned in “Spinning Straw Into Gold” (Business Officer, October 2009), Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, Ohio, has woven its own revenue enhancement projects into its college fabric. While some key changes in the way the institution does business did precede the economic downturn, such initiatives continue to bring in additional revenue and might serve as models for other institutions to consider.
One of the major offerings is a workforce development program, Nuclear Engineering Technology (NUET), that takes advantage of the campus's proximity to a nuclear power plant. Lakeland has marketed the concept to other community colleges that now offer the program to students. In place for seven years, the training course continues to serve its purpose and generate welcome revenue for the college.
The workforce training program grew out of discussions with FirstEnergy Corp., when the company approached Lakeland in 2000 to talk about the possibility of having the college provide training for its projected future employment needs at its Perry Nuclear Power Plant, in Perry, Ohio. As a result, Lakeland's engineering department worked with the plant's personnel and with existing faculty to develop a curriculum for a two-year associate degree in nuclear engineering technology. The program held its first class in 2002. Faculty members include existing engineering faculty, part-time faculty from the power plant, and—just this year—a full-time faculty member who was hired for the program.
The technical course curriculum is designed to train students to become technicians in operations, mechanical maintenance, electrical maintenance, chemical laboratory, health physics, and instrumentation and control. The program also prepares students for employment as maintenance technicians in any domestic nuclear manufacturing or production facility.
More than 100 power plants exist in the United States. Lakeland freely shares its curriculum with other colleges, power plants, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Lakeland's dean of engineering technology, Don Anthan, and associate professor and chair for AEUT/ELEC/NUET programs, Ken White, recently assisted NEI in developing a uniform curriculum for this field. The college currently partners with Monroe County Community College, Monroe, Michigan, and is starting a partnership with Montgomery County Community College, Blue Bell, Pennsylvania.
Benefits for Both
The enrollment in the program has grown significantly from the first course's 8 students to more than 50 students today. As part of the original revenue model, FirstEnergy paid for tuition, books, and fees for all enrollees. However, a recent change calls for FirstEnergy to provide such financial assistance to only the students with the highest grade point averages. The college does not receive any form of compensation from FirstEnergy. Program revenue, which approximates $98,000 annually, comes from tuition and state support. Federal grants have also supported this program.
While revenue is appreciated, the program's benefit for students is also important to the college. Says Anthan, “There will always be a need for energy, and nuclear power is one of the major sources for our energy needs. Lakeland's Nuclear Engineering Technology program gives students a great opportunity for employment at a time when jobs are scarce.”
MICHAEL E. MAYHER, vice president, administrative services and treasurer, Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, Ohio