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Engineering Students Tour Surry Nuclear Power Plant

A group of ODU Engineering Technology students recently went on a tour of the Surry Nuclear Power Plant, designed to showcase an example of the local jobs available to aspiring engineers.

The 19-student delegation, led by Moustafa Moustafa, associate professor of mechanical engineering technology , took a two-hour tour of the facility, located in Surry County on the west bank of the James River, about 40 miles from the ODU campus. The students were awed by what they saw.

"I really enjoyed the tour. I was amazed by the huge steam turbines and how much energy output they produce," said JaMahl Sapp, a mechanical engineering major.

Dana Griffin, an aerospace engineering major from Mechanicsville, said the tour took the students throughout the facility, from the water ducts where 1.5 million gallons of water are pulled from the James River every minute, to the turbine hall where the generators and turbines are located, to the 12 huge transformers directing the power generated by the plant into lines that transmit it across the state.

But Griffin was really intrigued by the security measures at the plant. "We had to go through countless security checkpoints that included chemical sniffers, X-ray machines, armed guards, turnstiles and metal detectors," he said. "On our way in we even saw a UPS truck being inspected, including the bottom of the truck with a mirror, just like you see in 'CSI.'"

As a civil engineering major, Robert Hatch wasn't sure he would see much that was applicable to his chosen field of study. "However, I was delighted to see that the field of civil engineering plays a critical role in creating and maintaining a nuclear facility," said Hatch, who is president of the ODU chapter of Tau Beta Pi engineering society. "I particularly enjoyed and appreciated seeing the structural aspects of the facility. I was amazed at the thickness of the reactor walls and amount of concrete and steel needed to fabricate such a structure."

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Published on: April 1, 2013