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Summer Enrichment: Southern Nuclear Operating Company

Posted Thursday, July 7, 2011 in Summer Programs.

I spent 13 weeks at an internship with Southern Nuclear Operating Company (SNC). SNC is the nuclear power division of the electric utility company Southern Company. I worked at the corporate office in Birmingham, Alabama. I worked in the Environmental Affairs, Chemistry and Radiological Services department, mainly with the Chemistry group within that department. The Chemistry group oversees the various chemical operations at each of the three SNC plants, including chemical addition, chemical concentration level monitoring, and isotopic detection. I am a rising senior in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Vanderbilt University, so this position fit very well with my major, although I did not have any previous background experience with nuclear power.

I worked on many different projects throughout my internship. While I was still getting adjusted to the company and learning, I mostly completed Chemistry data reports that the group had fallen behind on. These involved the retrieval of large amounts of data, mostly concentration levels of specific isotopes or chemicals, and the organization of these data into Excel. I was already proficient with Excel, but I learned many more functions and shortcuts through these tasks. To finish my reports as efficiently as possible, I continually questioned if there was a shorter way to deal with these data. As a result, I saved a great deal of time by learning how to use the sort, filter, and auto-format functions, as well as how to create macro shortcuts in Excel.

My major project was configuring new software for the Chemistry departments at Plant Farley and Plant Vogtle. The software, ChemStaff Remote Manager, is a web application that users can sign into to view and trend numerous data points collected on various systems of the plant. Remote Manager also automates calculations and automatically monitors and sends alerts on the data it collects. This improves the efficiency of routine tasks performed by the Chemistry department. I managed this project between corporate, the plants, and the software provider. I configured numerous data points, alerts, and user accounts. I also utilized problem-solving skills by troubleshooting problems that arose daily. Finally, I utilized technical writing to author a standard procedure on the use of Remote Manager.

Kathryn Maxwell ’12
Chemical Engineering