Diversity/Careers in Engineering & Information Technology



June/July 2011

Diversity/Careers June/July 2011 Issue

African Americans in tech
NYPA: Women engineers
BDPA plans conference
ABI's Women of Vision
Atam Dhawan of NJIT
Argonne & Native students

Energy M/WBEs
News & Views
VMX: environmental WBE
Regional roundup
Supplier diversity

Diversity in action
News & Views

Sandia Intel

Diversity In Action

The NRC seeks engineers and other "technical folk"

Last year the agency was named one of the best places to work in the federal government, largely because of its excellent work-life programs

This is an interesting time for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which has been operating "under a continuing resolution," for lack of a full-year budget from Congress. As a result the agency is not hiring as robustly as in years past. But it's still making strong efforts to recruit diverse talent, says Miriam Cohen, director of the HR office.

That's good news for the techies who do land jobs: last year, the NRC was named one of the best places to work in the federal government by the Partnership for Public Service. And that, Cohen says, was largely because of its excellent work-life programs.

"We don't anticipate hiring as many employees as we have in the past, but we will continue to do what we always do: have a prominent presence at minority-serving institutions and work to bring in more veterans, minorities and women to fill our vacant positions."

The NRC recruits health physicists, engineers, construction engineers and scientists, and in general, "We like all the technical folk," Cohen says. She believes that the NRC offers competitive salaries. "We try to have an attractive pay scale at the entry level and give people mobility in their careers. If you balance that with our benefits and work-life programs, we offer an attractive package," she says.

One of the interesting benefits is telework, and there's a new flex-time policy. There's also onsite child care, and contracted services with a fitness center and a health center. The agency offers a graduate fellowship program for degrees that are critical to the commission's work.

It's helpful if applicants have had some experience in a nuclear power plant or a fuel-cycle facility, but even without that the NRC will consider candidates with ME, ChE, EE and nuclear engineering knowledge and experience. Last year President Obama passed a reform initiative that eliminated the need for applicants to answer a lengthy questionnaire, so right now all they have to do is send a resume, Cohen says.

Barbara Williams is deputy of the office of small business and civil rights at the NRC and Tony Barnes is program manager for affirmative employment and diversity management. Beyond the succession planning now taking place at the agency there are mentoring programs for those who are interested, they point out. "The programs are intended to transfer knowledge and increase the value of individuals to the NRC," Barnes says. More than 300 employees are presently participating.

Diversity awareness programs are strong at the agency. There's mandatory EEO and diversity management training for managers and supervisors, and managers must ensure that employees are fully engaged in a positive work environment. Non-mandatory training for all NRC employees will be available soon. "Senior leadership's support for diversity management has been invaluable," says Williams.

There are also EEO advisory committees, similar to employee resource groups in the private sector, Barnes says. They're for African Americans, Asian Pacific Islanders, women, people with disabilities, Native Americans, Hispanics, LGBT folks and an "ageism" group. "They're self-supporting but reach across to help each other," Barnes says.

Cohen notes that "We have an organization that cares about people and values their viewpoints. When you come here people care about your progression and want you to be successful."


Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Headquarters: Washington, DC
Employees: 4,000
Budget: $1 billion for FY 2011
Mission: Regulates commercial nuclear power plants and other uses of nuclear materials such as in nuclear medicine, through licensing, inspection and enforcement of its requirements

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U.S. Coast Guard

Defense Intelligence Agency
HNTB Johns Hopkins APL
GE Healthcare Philadelphia Gas Works
CNA DRS Technologies
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
U.S. Department of State CSX
National Radio Astronomy Observatory Office of Naval Research
Rockwell Collins  


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