The next generation of FPL nuclear technicians and engineers could very well get their start at Indian River State College’s (IRSC) new Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
The $21.5 million, 65,000 square foot facility at IRSC’s Ft. Pierce campus represents a unique partnership between the college and local business partners, including FPL.
The Brown Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship will focus on educational programs in alternative energy and sustainability. Students will learn how to produce biofuels, construct photovoltaic solar cells, experiment with light technologies, and gain hands-on experience in all aspects of energy efficient building construction.
The center will also feature a nuclear simulator complete with a control room that will help train students to work at Florida Power & Light's St. Lucie or Turkey Point nuclear power plants. The college received a $3.1 million grant from the National Science Foundation to train instructors who will then train students.
The program includes a partnership of schools from 18 states.
FPL donated equipment so students can get real-life experience in a controlled environment.
"I think it's going to play a big part moving into the future," IRSC President Ed Massey told Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. "By housing the nuclear energy program and the power plant operations program in partnership with Florida Power & Light, again it is meeting a high demand need in our area and putting people in high skill, high-wage paying jobs available in that industry."
The Brown Center represents an extension of the partnership FPL has built with IRSC over the past six years, helping to train students in nuclear technology and place them in jobs immediately following graduation.
"Our partnership with IRSC has been a win-win,” said Mano Nazar, FPL’s Nuclear Division executive vice president and chief nuclear officer. “Since the program was developed in 2006 in partnership with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and IRSC, we have hired over 60 trained individuals and promoted 24 existing employees because of the skills and knowledge they gained here at IRSC. This is a great example of how an innovative partnership like this one can really make a difference.”