Students Gain Insight to EM Cleanup Through SRS-University Project

AIKEN, S.C. (June 3, 2019) – A first-time collaboration involving data analysis between Department of Energy Environmental Management’s Savannah River Site (SRS) and the University of South Carolina-Aiken (USCA) has proven successful as four computer science students recently presented their work in a final step toward graduation.

Savannah River Remediation (SRR), the liquid waste contractor at SRS, launched the project to provide students with real-world, hands-on experience with the latest software. They worked with SRR employees to learn how to use a top-tier software tool for data analysis. That tool currently monitors certain equipment for preventative maintenance inside the Defense Waste Processing Facility and will help manage salt batch preparations for the Salt Waste Processing Facility.

“It’s exciting to see students have an opportunity to put new technologies to use this way,” said Patricia Allen, director of SRR environmental, safety, health, and quality assurance. “We’re excited about this new relationship with USCA and believe it can be mutually beneficial.”

USCA students Elizabeth Rustad, Jacob Barr, Yasser Alzahrani, and Daniel Orillac-Medica participated in the senior-year project, learning the rigors of the software lifecycle including requirements, design, and testing documentation. They developed a method for developing and analyzing “big data,” which USCA refers to as the abundance of information in the digital age and the speed with which it multiplies.

This SRR education outreach continues a relationship with USCA that introduces various SRS operations to students, helping them grow skillsets while opening another pipeline of potential employees to support SRS work. SRR and USCA have collaborated on hiring summer interns at SRR, mentoring students, and helping create a new engineering program at the institution.

“We believe it would have been otherwise difficult for these students to gain this level of exposure to and insights into such robust analytics,” Allen said. “The mentoring by SRR’s professional engineers offers greater understanding of applied technology. We also feel that helping to boost students’ abilities at USCA could help provide SRR future workers with valuable knowledge of today’s technology.”

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