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ORAU launches STEM Accelerator to address challenges in STEM education, training, research and innovation

ORAU STEM Accelerator logo

America’s nuclear energy industry faces a critical problem that ORAU’s newly launched STEM Accelerator hopes to solve.

The drive toward a carbon neutral clean energy future is anticipated to spur the growth of advanced nuclear reactors that are smaller, simpler to construct, more cost-effective to operate than existing facilities and offer high-quality career opportunities. However, there is a critical shortage of the skilled professionals needed to oversee manufacturing, construction and operation of these facilities.

The ORAU STEM Accelerator (OSA) was created to help bridge this gap by convening a diverse network of two- and four-year academic institutions, industry, non-profit, professional organizations, labor unions and government partners with the aim of addressing the toughest challenges in STEM education, training, research and innovation.

“OSA will focus its work in three sectors: nuclear science and technology, space manufacturing and critical national infrastructure,” Olivia Blackmon, OSA director said. “We’re focusing on nuclear science and technology first, because the current need is so great, with a piloted program in nuclear energy.”

The U.S. nuclear energy industry faces significant challenges in attracting and retaining qualified talent.

“Retirements, retention issues, inflation, shifting demographics, etc. This is all documented from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), and projections are suggesting worsening labor market conditions over the next decade extending into 2060,” Blackmon said, adding that something needs to be done and quickly to reverse this trend.

To that end, OSA is already plugged into some major national efforts in collaboration with the NEI and other partners to help solve these critical challenges, including:

  • Establishing a nuclear energy coalition
  • Analyzing data for decision-making
  • Implementing strategic talent planning
  • Strengthening career awareness and retention
  • Establishing diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility best practices
  • Emphasizing training and certification
  • Building a sustainable pipeline

“Our goal is to drive research and development, advocate for innovative training and education solutions, shape policy, and deliver tangible outcomes to strengthen the United States STEM workforce,” Blackmon said.

Learn more about ORAU STEM Accelerator

Impact Areas

ORAU launches STEM Accelerator to meet the challenge of strengthening our scientific capacity

In this episode of the Further Together podcast, Michael Holtz talk to Liv Blackmon, director of the ORAU STEM Accelerator, about the mission, vision, and goals of this critical initiative, why focusing on the nuclear energy industry is the first priority, and how ORAU is uniquely qualified to bring together the key stakeholders that are part of the nation's STEM ecosystem.

Listen to Episode 134 Transcript for Episode 134

Check out the videocast for Episode 134

Olivia Blackmon, ORAU senior research advisor

ORAU Media Contacts and Information

About ORAU

ORAU, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, provides science, health, and workforce solutions that address national priorities and serve the public interest. Through our specialized teams of experts and access to a consortium of more than 150 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local, and commercial customers to provide innovative scientific and technical solutions and help advance their missions. ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

Media Contacts

Pam BoneeDirector, CommunicationsCell: (865) 603-5142
Wendy WestManager, CommunicationsCell: (865) 207-7953