Software Engineering Internship Story: NuScale Power


Isabelle Cochran

Software Engineering

What company did you intern with and where are they located?

I interned with NuScale Power at their office location in Corvallis, Oregon. While I worked in-person during the summer months, I also had the opportunity to work part-time remotely while taking classes on Auburn’s campus. NuScale Power is currently the global leader in Small Modular Reactor technology, with a mission of improving the quality of life for humankind by advancing nuclear power.

How did you identify and apply for your internship? Are there any specific resources you used to find the opportunity (i.e. Handshake, career fairs, other recruitment events)?  

I was taking a course titled Advanced Reactor Plant Operations, and through this course, I had the opportunity to learn about and hear from various companies in the nuclear industry. I knew I wanted a career in nuclear, so I began researching available opportunities with any energy-related company I could find. I had heard of NuScale Power in the classroom, and when I saw they had an internship related to my degree, I knew I had to apply.

What was the application process like?

The application process included an initial online application, where I was able to outline my experiences, my skills, and my careers goals. Shortly following, I received a phone call that led to an online interview with who would become my immediate supervisor and manager.

Tell us about your internship experience. What types of tasks and projects did you engage in? Was there a particular project or part of the experience you learned the most from?

At NuScale Power, I worked as a Cybersecurity Assistant Intern. Because of how regulated the nuclear industry is, the beginning of my internship consisted of a significant amount of training and learning about the NuScale Small Modular Reactor (SMR) design. Once I was trained, the main project I worked on was handling NuScale’s nuclear plant system design data, and using automation to import data from engineering documents. After finishing the system lists, this data would be used to evaluate cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the nuclear plant design.

In what ways did this internship help you prepare for your next destination after Auburn?

This internship allowed me to better understand the general operations of a nuclear company. Additionally, I was able to explore various engineering systems and complete cybersecurity and digital control trainings. I learned how cybersecurity can affect the commercial nuclear licensing process and a system design itself. This experience will contribute significantly to my full-time position upon graduation where I will be working as a Reactor Engineer for Southern Nuclear.

In what ways did your coursework or other experiences at Auburn prepare you for your internships? Are there specific topics or skills you learned from classes that you put into practice on the job?

Several of my courses and research experience at Auburn prepared me for my internship. Some of the most impactful classes were in my Nuclear Power Generation Systems (NPGS) Minor program. This included my Advanced Reactor Plant Operations and Basic Nuclear courses. Additionally, my time as an undergraduate research assistant in the College of Engineering NPGS lab provided me with experience designing and implementing nuclear reactor components in virtual reality models. Both my classwork and research introduced me to topics such as commercial nuclear licensing and basic reactor operations.

Do you have any advice for other students looking for internships like yours?

Know how to sell yourself! The Samuel Ginn College of Engineering gives you so much knowledge and so many skills that you may not even realize. It is imperative that you know how to communicate your experiences and classwork to employers. Be confident in yourself and everything you have accomplished. Just as equally, know how to network. If you see a company is visiting a campus, even if you are not interested, stop by, and introduce yourself. You never know what a new connection can lead you to.