A degree, a hard hat and a job

Graduates of Miami Dade College’s Clean Energy Institute walked across the stage last week with hard hats on their heads and job offers in their hands, reports the Miami Herald.

Thanks to the Clean Energy Institute, a joint program between Miami Dade College and Florida Power & Light, the grads will work as technicians at the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant in Homestead with starting salaries of $45,000 or more after two years of college-level study and earning a $7,661 associate of science degree.

Over the next five years, 38 percent of U.S. nuclear power plant workers will become eligible for retirement. Two new plants are expected to create another 800 jobs. The institute was started in 2006 to provide young workers.

Florida Power & Light has pledged to hire at least 20 Clean Energy Institute graduates annually for 10 years.

“It’s a robust pipeline for highly skilled workers,” said James Auld, college coordinator of the nuclear division at FPL. “We take local individuals, educate them locally and then we hire them locally and they stay long-term with the company.”

The program will expand within five years to include non-licensed operators, or workers who man the controls, in addition to the mechanical, electrical and instrumentation and control skills already taught in the program.

Institute applicants must pass a challenging test of math and spatial reasoning skills. Of 120 who apply annually, 40 are admitted.

Elmehdi Elaadil, 21, enrolled right out of high school.

“I thought I would never make it,” said Elaadil, who moved to Miami from Casablanca, Morocco, 10 years ago. “But we all studied together at the library almost every day.”

He’s been hired as a mechanical maintenance technician.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON August 19, 2010

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