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Why Becoming An Operations Shift Foreman Was Tough…But Worth It

The following post was sent to us by Pacific Gas & Electric’s (PG&E) Meagan Wilson for NEI’s Powered by Our People promotion. Powered by Our People is part of the Future of Energy campaign that NEI launched earlier this year. This promotion aims to communicate innovation in our nation’s nuclear facilities in the voices of the people working at them. 

Meagan is an Operations Shift Foreman for Pacific Gas and Electric Company’s Diablo Canyon Power Plant and has worked in the nuclear industry for ten years. Meagan is also the Region IV President for U.S. Women in Nuclear (U.S. WIN). Check out some of the highlights from this year’s U.S. WIN Conference.

For more on this promotion, take a look at the featured content on our website and follow the #futureofenergy tag across our digital channels. 

Meagan Wilson
Nestled just south of America’s Happiest City is the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. This powerhouse is the largest private employer in San Luis Obispo County with over 1,500 employees. On some days (or nights), if you were to look to the control room of one of the two operating units, you might just find Operations Shift Foreman Meagan Wilson. Meagan is one of a couple dozen qualified shift foremen responsible for supervising the operation of the reactors and authorizing work. 

"I like what I do because of the interactions with the different work groups,” said Meagan. “I get to supervise licensed and non-licensed operators and observe their work in the field. I also get to interact with the various departments when work is being performed, so I always feel engaged in what is happening on a daily basis.”

You might ask, what does it take to be a shift foreman? 
Well, there are really two paths you could take to qualify for a shift foreman position – both require a lot of work. The first is to obtain your reactor operator license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which is a multiyear process that entails hundreds of hours on a simulator and dozens of tests. You would then “stand post” with your reactor operator license for at least two years before being eligible to obtain your senior reactor operating license, also issued by the NRC upon completion of a rigorous training program.

Diablo Canyon Power Plant
The second is to enter the process, as Meagan did, by first obtaining an engineering degree. With an engineering degree, once you’re hired by a utility you can enter what’s called a direct senior reactor operator license path. This is a demanding two-year training program, which also involves hundreds of hours and dozens of tests that culminate with a weeklong exam issued by the NRC—but the fun doesn’t stop there. Once you are licensed and qualified to perform your job, you then spend 40 hours in training every five weeks to maintain your qualification.    

Why does she do it? 
“That’s simple,” said Meagan. “Nuclear energy is a carbon-free energy source that is highly reliable and dependable. I support the industry and look for advancements in the technology that will help to solidify nuclear energy as a viable part of America’s future energy mix.”



Comments

Bill Horstman said…
Meagan, great job and a very good reason for supporting nuclear power. Your co-workers at DCPP are very proud of your accomplishments.
Anonymous said…
The third path would be to have served in the US Navy in the nuclear power program. Both enlisted (no degree) or officer (degree) are eligible to direct SRO or direct RO.

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