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Pitt provost approves region's first nuclear engineering certificates

| Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2007

The region's first graduate and undergraduate certificates in nuclear engineering -- offered through the University of Pittsburgh's Swanson School of Engineering -- have been approved by Pitt Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor James V. Maher, the university announced today.

The program will offer students access to Western Pennsylvania's nuclear energy experts from companies such as Bechtel Bettis Inc., Westinghouse Electric Co., and First Energy Nuclear Operating Co., which operates the Beaver Valley Power Station nuclear power plant in Shippingport. An advisory panel from those companies helped design the curriculum.

"It's natural for Pitt to offer a nuclear engineering education -- we're surrounded by one of the largest concentrations of nuclear engineering experts in the world," nuclear engineer Larry R. Foulke, who directs Pitt's program and serves as a professor, said in a news release. "Our nuclear engineering program is driven by the workforce needs of these facilities. We asked them what knowledge our graduates should have, then designed our courses."

Though Maher only recently approved the courses, Foulke began teaching them last year and the first group to complete the courses is expected to receive their undergraduate certificates at the end of this semester.

A $600,000 educational grant from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a $100,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy will help develop the program, create a distance-learning component for teaching students across Pennsylvania and further the education of nuclear engineers already in the workplace.

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