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Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

(OP)
Hey everyone. Last year I got a job as an engineer working on a project to build two new nuclear reactors in South Carolina. Unfortunately, the utility/owner cancelled the project on July 31st (read about it here), not even 1 year after I got the job. The project was way over budget and behind schedule due to exceptionally bad project management by Westinghouse Electric Company (not my employer). As a result, I am out of a job, along with 5600 other people. I had been hoping to make a career out of working as an engineer in the nuclear industry, but it is clear now that the industry is dying.

So, I’m getting out of the nuclear industry, and I’m looking for advice about where else I’d fit well. My question is:

Do you know of any US industries where someone with my education and experience could do engineering design work? My education, experience, career development focus, and desired type of work are listed below.

Also, do you know of other places where I could post this question and get more replies from other people?

Thank you.

Education: Degrees in Nuclear Engineering and Mechanical Engineering.

Experience: 6 years (5 years US Navy, then 1 year commercial) of nuclear power plant engineering. All were effectively doing project management with very limited use of technical analyses/calculations. None of my experience is in plant operations or maintenance.

Career development focus: Working towards earning a Professional Engineer (PE) license. I need additional qualifying experience and I need to take the PE exam (Mechanical – Thermal and Fluid Systems PE exam).

Desired type of work: I am not particular about which industry I switch to, so long as the jobs are relatively stable and the work involves engineering design. The nature of work needs to qualify towards earning a PE license, which means it should be “meaningful design experience” that meets a public need and should “include exposure to the formation of design problem statements and specifications, consideration of alternative solutions, feasibility considerations, analytical calculations and detailed systems descriptions.”

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

With your military experience are there any openings within the US Navy nuclear fleet support industries. In the UK a lot of ex Royal Navy submariners work for Rolls Royce Associates who do that sort of work and there must be similar situations in the States

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

As a collolory to Derbyloc's suggestion, I would suggest that your apparent insistence on work that " involves engineering design" may well be overly restrictive . What about maintenance type roles. not... much design but you should be able to build on you previous experiences. Are you willing to relocate. the sooner you answer this question , the better able you will be to see opportunities, and / or admit that perhaps you need to lower your sights.

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

There are a lot of combined cycles being built right now. I would jump into fossil power projects (that is what I did, since I saw nuke as a dying industry and wanted to bail before it got worse). I went from a nuke plant at a large utility to a capital project group at another large utility developing/building combined cycles and working on large capital projects at existing units. The downside of project related work, is it can be up and down, but things seems to be in a boom cycle right now. That said, I left the last utility and currently work as a project engineer at a very large district energy plant and it is extremely stable. I would avoid working for consultants/EPCs unless you are very limited in where you want to live and it is your only/best option. Work directly for an organization that owns/operates the assets. Quality of life, compensation, benefits will be better. I would look at all the large utilities in the US. There are lots of engineering, operations, development, project management, etc. positions out there. Good luck.

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

Maybe biomedical engineering, specifically radiation treatment equipment? Healthcare is never "down".

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

I left the nuclear industry, as well (within the past year). I now work for an EPC firm which specializes in steam and power generation, typically with fired boiler designs. The "balance of plant" knowledge transferred seamlessly and I picked up on the boiler design side in less than six months - I'm by no means an expert quite yet (but there are engineers here that I'm learning from), but I am actively contributing.

I agree with nuclear being a dying industry; it'll need to reinvent itself if a true "nuclear renaissance" will ever occur. Best of luck to you!

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

Being in the fossil power industry for over 40 years, I absolutely agree that fossil power (gas) will be around, and still has good employment opportunities on the project development end or operating.

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

If you wanted to stay nuke then operations or maintenance would be your best bet but also be very difficult to get into. OTOH, I wouldn't see getting a design engineering position at a decent company with mainly project management experience as easy either, you'd be more a candidate for operations, maintenance, marketing/sales, or other non-technical role. The auto industry has been on a hiring binge lately due to the economy but I'm sure there are other industries doing good too. If you want to stay in one long-term then deciding which industry to get into will depend mainly on where you want to live. Unfortunately, unless you can get hired in with the government, being young today means bouncing between employers throughout your career so choose your location and industry wisely.

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

"I am not particular about which industry I switch to, so long as the jobs are relatively stable and the work involves engineering design. The nature of work needs to qualify towards earning a PE license, which means it should be “meaningful design experience” that meets a public need and should “include exposure to the formation of design problem statements and specifications, consideration of alternative solutions, feasibility considerations, analytical calculations and detailed systems descriptions.”

You seem to be implying that there might be a recession-proof,or layoff-proof industry floating around somewhere. The reality is that such a beast cannot be found, and you'll need to be flexible enough to jump to a different company or different industry as required by the whims of fate.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

Have you thought of some of the quasi-government labs like Sandia?

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

(OP)
Thank you everyone for the advice and good luck wishes. I have taken notes from each reply and will do some researching into everyone’s advice.

Quote (DerbyLoco)

With your military experience are there any openings within the US Navy nuclear fleet support industries. In the UK a lot of ex Royal Navy submariners work for Rolls Royce Associates who do that sort of work and there must be similar situations in the States

Definitely. Thanks for the idea!

Quote (miningman)

As a collolory to Derbyloc's suggestion, I would suggest that your apparent insistence on work that " involves engineering design" may well be overly restrictive . What about maintenance type roles. not... much design but you should be able to build on you previous experiences. Are you willing to relocate. the sooner you answer this question , the better able you will be to see opportunities, and / or admit that perhaps you need to lower your sights.

As long as the work qualifies towards earning a PE license, I’m open to it. I agree that it might be restrictive, so I’ll be quick to expand my search region if things aren’t panning out well by the next month or so. Thank you for the reply.

Quote (MFJewell)

There are a lot of combined cycles being built right now. I would jump into fossil power projects (that is what I did, since I saw nuke as a dying industry and wanted to bail before it got worse). I went from a nuke plant at a large utility to a capital project group at another large utility developing/building combined cycles and working on large capital projects at existing units. The downside of project related work, is it can be up and down, but things seems to be in a boom cycle right now. That said, I left the last utility and currently work as a project engineer at a very large district energy plant and it is extremely stable. I would avoid working for consultants/EPCs unless you are very limited in where you want to live and it is your only/best option. Work directly for an organization that owns/operates the assets. Quality of life, compensation, benefits will be better. I would look at all the large utilities in the US. There are lots of engineering, operations, development, project management, etc. positions out there. Good luck.

I will be strongly considering getting into fossil power projects. Thank you for the advice.

Quote (Jboggs)

Maybe biomedical engineering, specifically radiation treatment equipment? Healthcare is never "down".

Thanks for the idea. I’ll do a broad search for companies that produce radiation-related medical equipment.

Quote (KoachCSR)

I left the nuclear industry, as well (within the past year). I now work for an EPC firm which specializes in steam and power generation, typically with fired boiler designs. The "balance of plant" knowledge transferred seamlessly and I picked up on the boiler design side in less than six months - I'm by no means an expert quite yet (but there are engineers here that I'm learning from), but I am actively contributing.

I agree with nuclear being a dying industry; it'll need to reinvent itself if a true "nuclear renaissance" will ever occur. Best of luck to you!

Thanks for the advice. That type of work is definitely applicable, so I’ll be looking into it for sure. How does one go about identifying EPC firms in the steam power industry? Would you mind naming a few for me? Thanks.

Quote (metengr)

Being in the fossil power industry for over 40 years, I absolutely agree that fossil power (gas) will be around, and still has good employment opportunities on the project development end or operating.

Thanks for the reply.

Quote (CWB1)

If you wanted to stay nuke then operations or maintenance would be your best bet but also be very difficult to get into. OTOH, I wouldn't see getting a design engineering position at a decent company with mainly project management experience as easy either, you'd be more a candidate for operations, maintenance, marketing/sales, or other non-technical role. The auto industry has been on a hiring binge lately due to the economy but I'm sure there are other industries doing good too. If you want to stay in one long-term then deciding which industry to get into will depend mainly on where you want to live. Unfortunately, unless you can get hired in with the government, being young today means bouncing between employers throughout your career so choose your location and industry wisely.

Thanks for the advice. Hopefully it’s not too hard getting an engineering design position – that’s what I need to get the PE license I’m targeting.

Quote (IRstuff)

"I am not particular about which industry I switch to, so long as the jobs are relatively stable and the work involves engineering design. The nature of work needs to qualify towards earning a PE license, which means it should be “meaningful design experience” that meets a public need and should “include exposure to the formation of design problem statements and specifications, consideration of alternative solutions, feasibility considerations, analytical calculations and detailed systems descriptions.”

You seem to be implying that there might be a recession-proof,or layoff-proof industry floating around somewhere. The reality is that such a beast cannot be found, and you'll need to be flexible enough to jump to a different company or different industry as required by the whims of fate.

Agreed. Thanks for making sure I'm based in reality. I’m only looking for a job in a relatively-stable industry when compared to the average. I understand I likely will be subject to ups and downs regardless of which industry I’m in. I’m just trying to limit my exposure to ups and downs as much as I reasonably can.

Quote (weldstan)

Have you thought of some of the quasi-government labs like Sandia?

Definitely. I’ll be looking at them very much. Thanks for the reply.

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

Just be aware that government labs are far from being immune from layoffs. There's been a steady erosion of the ranks of subject matter experts (SMEs) in government labs and research facilities since the 1980s. Many of those jobs have been outsourced to the likes of Aerospace Corporation, SAIC, and the like. They're basically huge job shopper bays with hordes of engineers that service the government customers when they're needed.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

For ex Navy Nuke, why not try one of the shipyards? Newport News, Electric Boat, or civilian service at one of the Navy yards.

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

Have you considered geotechnical engineering? I am often told by other engineers, contractors and clients what my conclusions and recommendations should be. So, based on my personal experience, everybody is qualified to do what I do. In fact, not having been a geotechnical engineer, you may be more qualified than someone who has experience as a geotechnical engineer...to be a geotechnical engineer.

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

(OP)

Quote (IRstuff)

Just be aware that government labs are far from being immune from layoffs. There's been a steady erosion of the ranks of subject matter experts (SMEs) in government labs and research facilities since the 1980s. Many of those jobs have been outsourced to the likes of Aerospace Corporation, SAIC, and the like. They're basically huge job shopper bays with hordes of engineers that service the government customers when they're needed.

Noted. Thanks for the info.

Quote (bcd)

For ex Navy Nuke, why not try one of the shipyards? Newport News, Electric Boat, or civilian service at one of the Navy yards.

I'd consider them if they weren't located outside of my search area. They're my fallback if my searching doesn't pan out the way I'm hoping.

Quote (Terratek)

Have you considered geotechnical engineering? I am often told by other engineers, contractors and clients what my conclusions and recommendations should be. So, based on my personal experience, everybody is qualified to do what I do. In fact, not having been a geotechnical engineer, you may be more qualified than someone who has experience as a geotechnical engineer...to be a geotechnical engineer.

Haha! bigsmile Seriously though, do geotechnical engineers mostly have civil engineering degrees, or do the degrees vary a lot? What has been your experience?

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.

Geotechs will mostly have civil engineering degrees. The field is so unique, though, that a mechanical engineer who had a soil mechanics 101 class would probably be just as good a candidate as someone with a bachelor degree in civil engineering. I'd consider hiring a mechanical engineer, to be trained, if the circumstances were right. It would be a relatively long shot, but not implausible.

RE: Was laid off. Looking for advice on switching from US nuclear industry to a new US industry.


"I'd consider them if they weren't located outside of my search area..."

It sounds at this point as though your search area should be primarily on this planet, likely in English speaking areas. A bit more seriously though, it may take you some time and reflection to determine really what your chosen limits even can be, let alone what they should be. I'm around ex Navy nukes all the time. There's a dirty little, poorly kept secret called "Hanford" not far from me that's constantly looking for people with resumes not that different from yours. If, however you're restricting yourself to a limited geographic area, well, you're asking in a forum which is barely conscious of such, let alone limited. I'm sure you're aware that China is a happening spot for nuke these days, but when it comes to young blood, I think they have an oversupply of their own, although "US Navy" would probably be pretty attractive to some players.

Be aware of your own actual limitations, don't create them, don't cherry pick them, you'll have enough to deal with, and others will spot them if you can't.

.

(Me,,,wrong? ...aw, just fine-tuning my sarcasm!)

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