Industries Energy/Green

Advancing Virginia’s nuclear industry

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The Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium (VNEC) and the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER) announced a plan Monday to work together in a joint effort to bring more nuclear research dollars into Virginia and create more nuclear workforce opportunities.

The two organizations said in a signed memorandum of understanding that they would conduct initiatives related to research projects, education and training programs, new nuclear technologies, and job opportunities bringing nuclear-related businesses into Virginia.

“This agreement will help us ensure government, academic institutions, and private commercial entities make the most of Virginia’s capabilities for contributing to the next generation of nuclear technology and education, opening doors for additional research funding, creating opportunities for new jobs, and launching new businesses in the commonwealth,” Sama Bilbao y León, director of nuclear engineering programs at VCU and chairman of VNEC, said in a statement.

Discussing the details of the memorandum, VNEC Executive Director Marshall Cohen said, “This [agreement] builds upon actions by the Virginia legislature earlier this year to provide additional support for the CAER and upon the historical support of the CAER by the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission.’’

The agreement spells out specific processes for joint programs and identifies some specific areas on which the two organizations will work together. These will include promotion of Virginia’s research facilities and capabilities, efforts to train and attract job seekers in nuclear fields, and increasing educational opportunities.

Bob Bailey, executive director of CAER stated, “Combining the powerful VNEC brand with the CAER research capabilities enables CAER to expand its research base not only statewide in Virginia, but with important agencies such as the U.S. Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Electric Power Research Institute and others.”

The VNEC, created last year, seeks to facilitate, encourage and advance the nuclear industry in Virginia through collaboration among industry participants, colleges and universities and not-for-profits in areas of need and interest to its members.

The Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER) is a nonprofit organization that creates working relationships between high-tech industries, major R&D centers and university researchers, and facilitates professional development opportunities for scientists and engineers in the region. Its 30,000 square-foot research and education facility, located in the New London Business and Technology Center in Bedford County, will serve as the region’s source for industry innovation.

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