Their internships: nuclear energy and innovation

Their internships: nuclear energy and innovation

Duke Energy interns work throughout the company. These four students worked at nuclear plants in the Carolinas, examining processes

Interested in being a Duke Energy intern? 

This year, Duke Energy hosted more than 250 interns in departments including accounting, legal, administration, supply chain, customer delivery, renewables, transmission, IT and environmental health and safety. The internships are paid and come with the same benefits as a full-time employee. More than 900 Duke Energy’s employees started as interns.

To learn more: duke-energy.com/careers. College students should check the Recruiting Events website in early September to see which universities will host Duke Energy recruiters and when.

More than 250 college students had the opportunity to intern at Duke Energy this summer, and four did something unexpected for them and new for Duke Energy, too.

Industrial engineering students Jack Kozyrski, Julia Peters, Jordan Shore and Luke Stancombe interned with Duke Energy’s nuclear fleet, which typically hosts electrical, mechanical and nuclear engineering students. As industrial engineering majors, the students focus on finding ways to improve processes in business and manufacturing, which aligns with Duke Energy’s innovation initiative at its six nuclear plants in the Carolinas.

The plants generate about half of Carolinas’ customers power and is the company’s largest source of carbon-free energy. The interns were based at Duke Energy’s Innovation Center at Optimist Hall in Charlotte, where other teams are doing similar work, like creating web-based applications to streamline processes for workers in the field.

They shadowed maintenance crews at plants to see how the teams work, too, and gathered workflow data that they used to remove inefficient processes. None had worked at a power plant, and Peters, a junior at N.C. State University, said she wasn’t familiar with nuclear energy.

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Duke Energy's Innovation Center at Optimist Hall

“We are not nuclear engineers, so none of us really expected to work at a nuclear plant,” Peters said. “The industrial engineering work we did presented a chance to learn about something I never thought I’d get to see.” 

Stancombe, a senior at Virginia Tech who’s completed two internships at Duke Energy, said they collected data that will be helpful to the innovation initiative. The interns agreed that the experience was valuable to their professional growth, too. They said they learned the importance of hard work, meeting deadlines and accuracy. And a few said they left inspired about a possible career in energy.

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Shore, a junior at N.C. State, said nuclear plants have a procedure-heavy and safety-focused culture while producing an impressive amount of clean energy. Knowing that, he said he would advocate for more nuclear energy.

“It's cool just to say you work in the nuclear energy industry, but it was inspiring to find everyone I interacted with was genuinely excited about the future of nuclear,” said Kozyrski, a junior at the University of Michigan. “I think I'll walk away knowing how much positive change you can generate within a business when you create a culture of innovation.”

Meet three more Duke Energy interns

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Maya Hamilton
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Major: Computer science with a minor in communications

Hamilton spent the summer building robots at Duke Energy’s Innovation Center at Optimist Hall – not physical robots but electronic ones to automate processes in several ways, including billing and work orders. This was her first internship, and when she started, she was worried she wouldn’t understand how to do it, but her favorite part has been working with other departments to determine what kind of robot they need and then coding it with minimal assistance. “It’s cool because I didn’t know some of this stuff existed,” she said. “Being able to help build robots still blows my mind.”

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Noah Roberson
University of Florida
Major: Mechanical engineering

As a project management intern, Roberson was behind the scenes of the projects that keep the power grid strong. “You drive past and see the poles and meters of the electric grid your whole life and you don’t really think much about how it works,” he said, “so seeing all the parts that go into it from project management to engineering and finance was a cool learning experience for me.” That experience will come in handy in the fall, too, because Roberson is staying at Duke Energy as a part-time lighting engineer while he works toward graduation.

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Tatiana Cihovska
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Major: Accounting

Cihovska moved to the United States from Ukraine, but her engineering degree didn’t meet the requirements for working as an engineer here. She enrolled at UNC Charlotte, enjoyed her accounting classes and is in her senior year as an accounting major. At Duke Energy, her second accounting internship, she has been reconciling accounting records, which requires a lot of document scouring for names, reference numbers and purchase details. “You have to use your investigation skills and think, ‘What information can I find?’”

 

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