Coordination is key at nuclear plant

Coordination is key at nuclear plant

Christie Bristow balances multiple projects at Duke Energy’s McGuire Nuclear Station

For McGuire Nuclear Station’s Christie Bristow, being organized and confident about the decisions she makes is the name of the game.

And as a senior nuclear work management specialist, where preparation and execution are key, Bristow doesn’t take that responsibility lightly.

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Internships helped Christie Bristow decide on a career in nuclear energy.

“Managing risk and developing solutions are major tasks,” she said. Showing up for work each day means new challenges and ensuring daily activities result in the safe operation of the plant and those working in it.

Her job involves coordinating maintenance, operations, engineering and projects schedules. She handles multiple projects and activities – requiring a lot of coordination and communication – sometimes involving weeks of preparation, follow-up and decision-making.

It’s all about “staying on top,” Bristow said. Whether it’s tracking the progress of daily activities or scheduling a few thousand work activities for a refueling and maintenance outage, Bristow always has to remain focused. She welcomes the challenge.

She got the grit and determination from her parents.

From young age, she and her two siblings watched their mother and father serve as models for hard-working parents. They instilled in their children the importance of education and personal values. From as far back as she can recall, Bristow has memories of her dad working as a senior leader specializing in communications and market research for hospitals across the country. Her mom was a pharmaceutical company sales rep.

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Christie Bristow started at McGuire Nuclear Station in 2014.

“Seeing how driven he was day in and day out” was inspiring, she said, and motivated her to recognize the sky was the limit when it came to her career goals.

Instead of following in her father’s footsteps, Bristow turned to math and physics. She wanted to go to college and major in engineering after her high school physics teacher told her “it was OK for a female to purse a STEM-related career path.”

She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from Clemson University and Master of Science in energy systems from Northeastern University.

During her freshman year, she interned with Constellation Energy Nuclear Group in Baltimore. Her experience at the fuel supply group is what sparked her interest in nuclear power.

“Being able to tell my family and friends that I ordered uranium on a daily basis was so neat to me at the time.” It was then that she developed an interest in nuclear energy and realized she wanted to turn this passion into a career. After a few more internships within the nuclear industry, Bristow landed a co-op rotation with Duke Energy.

She credits her co-op experience with Duke Energy as the foundation for developing her career at McGuire Nuclear Station.

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McGuire Nuclear Station north of Charlotte began commercial operation in 1981. I can produce 2,316 megawatts of carbon-free energy.

As she thinks about where she is now, there’s something that always stands out. Going through college and internships, she said she was always the oddball – which she welcomed and embraced. In fact, one of her earliest and ironically favorite college memories is when she entered a 95-person engineering class and was only one of four women in the class.

Bristow said she’s grateful to have gone through this experience because it made her stronger and more confident as she transitioned into the workplace.

While less than 20% of the nuclear workforce are women, Bristow has seen an increasing number of young women choose the nuclear industry since she started at McGuire in 2014 as a co-op student.

“I am by default, a role model to young women. I understand that being ‘the one who’s not like the others’ makes for some awkward moments, but embracing it is what makes us powerful!”

Bristow is proud of her career in nuclear power.

“Every day for nearly 40 years, McGuire Nuclear Station employees have been improving the lives of its customers by providing clean, safe and reliable energy and I want to continue to be part of that tradition.”

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