High School: Desert Pines in Las Vegas, class of 2007
Keith Hale has changed addresses 15 times in the last 10 years. After a decade on the move he’s found a home and the start of a career thanks to OCC’s Electrical Technology program. He’s doing an internship at Nucor Steel in Auburn and is hoping to work there after earning his degree in December. “They’re an amazing company and I wouldn’t be there without my Electrical Technology class. They approached the school looking for people because a lot of the equipment we use in my Problem Logic Controller class was donated by Nucor.”
Hale graduated from Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas in 2007. A year later he enlisted in the United States Army and was shipped to Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In 2010 he was stationed at Fort Drum in northern New York. Hale did three deployments to Afghanistan before being honorably discharged in 2016.
A previous relationship brought Hale to Central New York where he began taking classes at OCC in the fall of 2016. Since his first semester on campus, he’s taken advantage of services offered by the Veterans’ office in Coulter hall. “Everything there has been done on time and correctly. Whenever I’ve needed to access my benefits, they’ve been there.”
Hale began interning at Nucor Steel in the summer of 2018, working where they melt down scrap metal. His internship went so well he continued with it during the fall semester. “You’re never done learning there. Once you’ve mastered everything they give you harder stuff to do. I’d like to get hired by them as an electrical technician after I earn my degree.”
Students enrolled in Onondaga’s Nuclear Energy Technology (NET) program received an extraordinary level of new financial and educational support.
In August 2014 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced it would fund scholarships benefiting students in the NET major. The program will provide 10 first-year students with scholarships totaling 50% of in-county tuition and fees, and 12 returning students with funding which covers 100% of in-county tuition and fees.
Students in the NET program will also benefit from the contributions of Exelon Corporation, the nation’s leading competitive energy provider. Their generous contribution of $250,000 has provided student scholarships and a state-of-the-art Lab-Volt Process Workstation which brings nuclear plant operations into the classroom giving students the opportunity for hands-on learning.
During the summer eight Onondaga NET students completed a nine-week-long internship at Exelon Generation’s Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in Scriba. Students divided their time evenly among all three maintenance disciplines; instrument & controls, mechanical, and electrical and received hands-on experience working throughout the plant. Three more Onondaga NET students interned at Nucor Steel of Auburn which has similar operational processes to a nuclear facility.
Onondaga’s NET program started in the fall 2013 semester in response to a workforce demand. The nuclear energy industry estimates approximately half of its workforce will be eligible to retire in the next 10 years. Students who successfully complete the two-year degree program will be eligible for a job at a nuclear facility with a starting salary of more than $50,000. Onondaga is one of only 36 colleges in the nation that offer the NET degree.
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