Westinghouse Wins Simulator Training Course of the Year

March 5, 2015 by Dave Kwiatkowski
Categories: Our People & Culture

I am really excited to share that our training organization has been recognized internationally with the 2014 simulator training course of the year award. From stiff competition, judges for the 2014 NEI (Nuclear Engineering International) Nuclear Training Awards selected the Westinghouse Senior Reactor Operator (SRO) Equivalency Certification Program as the best of the simulator category. Ronald Knief, one of the judges for the NEI 2014 competition, said, “Impressive program with a focus not only on the specific SRO certification but also teamwork, communication, and leadership.”

To me, this description is absolutely accurate. And it not only reflects the skills students build as part of the course but also the traits our training team embodies and expresses through their work every day.

Each member of the Westinghouse training team believes that it is his or her role to help students meet their goals and the goals of their utilities. When students are reaching these goals, personnel performance improves, and when that happens, so does plant performance. We develop partnerships with our customers to better understand these goals and also to understand their cultures. The combination is what really allows us to cultivate effective training that suits their needs – in terms of meeting those goals and in student assimilation of new knowledge that results in hands-on application.

We also incorporate the most up-to-date teaching methods into our training. We combine online and classroom interactive teaching methodologies with hands-on experience – an approach called blended learning. This progressive, collaborative and blended learning format is one we have developed into the Nuclearning® Educational Model. We built this model on three cornerstones: developing relationships through long-term partnerships; applying student-centered, blended learning techniques; and focusing on integrated plant operations.

Our performance-driven approach continually improves the quality of our training, as does our evaluation of it. We evaluate outcomes at five levels. The simplest of these is immediate impression – obtained from students through feedback forms. The next level measures the success of knowledge transfer, which we assess through exams or performance evaluations. We then look at behavioral changes, which we learn about through reports and/or follow-up discussions with the individuals and their supervisors. The highest two levels of evaluation assess both the business impact from a change in former student behavior when they return to their jobs, and the return on investment (ROI) experienced by their utilities. ROI, therefore, represents a combination of the behavior change and its impact on the business. For example, did the former student act, using knowledge learned in training, on a plant challenge in a manner that avoided a plant trip?

We have witnessed many of these evaluation items in action; it is the best proof that our training is working, and the most gratifying to experience as a trainer. Students are more equipped to reach their goals and are proud of new accomplishments, and this boils down to improvements at their plants.

I am proud of our team and what they have accomplished, and of course, of former students who have grown and helped their companies in new ways through applying what they learned in our courses.

You can read more specifically about the SRO Equivalency Certification training award in the summary published in the January 2015 issue of Nuclear Engineering International.

Dave Kwiatkowski
Manager, Training and Operational Services, Operator Interface
Westinghouse Electric Company