Pictured above from l. to r. – UCOR President and CEO Ken Rueter and Tech President Phil Oldham sign a memorandum of understanding formalizing a new partnership on workforce development supporting cleanup at the Oak Ridge Reservation.

Tech and United Cleanup Oak Ridge launched the partnership last week as Tech’s College of Engineering

Cookeville – A new partnership between Tennessee Tech University and United Cleanup Oak Ridge, LLC (UCOR) will focus on building a pipeline of highly skilled workers for UCOR’s environmental cleanup at the Oak Ridge Reservation for the U.S. Department of Energy.

“Tech students and faculty care deeply about being good stewards of our home here in Tennessee and its rich natural resources. As we aim for the launch of our nuclear engineering degree program in the fall of 2024, we are proud to link arms with UCOR in support of their work at Oak Ridge Reservation. By sharing the talents and manpower of Tech students and working hand in glove with the experts at UCOR, we can ensure that Oak Ridge Reservation is equipped with the proper workforce to remain a site of innovation, discovery and responsible environmental practice for years to come,” said Tech President Phil Oldham. 

Tech and UCOR launched the partnership last week as Tech’s College of Engineering is set to further its leadership as a top producer of engineering graduates for the state of Tennessee with the anticipated launch of a new nuclear engineering degree program as early as fall 2024.

UCOR is the Department of Energy’s (DOE) lead environmental cleanup contractor at the 32,000-acre Oak Ridge Reservation in East Tennessee. The company’s 2,300 workers are dedicated to safely reducing environmental risk while enabling new science and national security missions and economic reinvestment at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex.

“We’re excited that this partnership will showcase the variety of career opportunities the Department of Energy has at Oak Ridge, from facility deactivation and decommissioning and environmental restoration to fields such as finance, cybersecurity and environmental justice,” added DOE Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Field Office Manager Jay Mullis.

The two organizations will build on their existing internship program to identify research, training, mentorship and education opportunities that will enrich the learning experiences of Tech’s STEM and business students, encourage careers with UCOR and its parent companies and leverage other university partnerships in UCOR’s University Consortium.

“UCOR is excited to formalize and expand our connection with Tennessee Tech, and we’re also working to finalize an endowed engineering scholarship at Tech for the region’s students,” said UCOR President & Chief Executive Officer Ken Rueter. “We are especially proud that UCOR’s cleanup efforts have laid the foundation for the commercial nuclear renaissance happening now in East Tennessee. Governor Lee has set a goal for Tennessee to be the leader in nuclear-related careers, so we applaud Tech’s addition of a nuclear engineering degree to its strong, existing engineering offerings. The future looks bright for Tennessee, and it all begins with cleanup.”

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