Exelon invests in Engineering Visionary Scholarship to continue long-term NPRE support
For over 20 years, the Chicago-based utility giant, Exelon Corporation, has generously supported the Department of Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering at the University of Illinois. Exelon’s support has enriched the educational experience in NPRE, and many Illinois alumni have gone on to work for the company in the nuclear power field.
Most of the philanthropic support Exelon has provided over the last 20 years has been in the form of student scholarships. Now Exelon has solidified their support by helping to establish the Exelon-NPRE Visionary Scholarship, a $500,000 endowed fund that will continue to support undergraduate students in perpetuity.
The company has pledged to provide half the resources to establish the Exelon-NPRE Visionary Scholarship. Exelon's gift will be matched dollar-for-dollar by The Grainger Foundation Matching Challenge. Now through the end of 2019, The Grainger Foundation will double the impact of scholarships by matching all new scholarship funds in the College of Engineering.
“Many Exelon NPRE alumni have been supporters of other scholarship funds for NPRE, and I had always thought that (the Exelon-NPRE Visionary Scholarship) would be a good way to encourage support from those people in the future."
“When The Grainger Foundation Matching Challenge was announced, I immediately thought that I needed to contact my fellow NPRE alumni and see if I could get them to support the department,” said McVey, who earned a bachelor’s degree in NPRE in 1983. “Jim Stubbins, former NPRE Department Head, approached me and suggested that we use the resources that Exelon has been providing to the department for undergraduate scholarships and for their operational needs, and redirect it to an endowed scholarship fund in order to take advantage of The Grainger Matching Challenge. I suggested we make a separate scholarship fund and call it the Exelon-NPRE Visionary Scholarship Fund so that it would be something we could continue to make contributions to over time, including the alumni.”
NPRE is enthusiastic about the possibilities the endowed scholarship can create. "We at NPRE are extremely happy with the support that Exelon has provided over more than two decades,” said NPRE Department Head Rizwan Uddin. “Exelon's commitment to … establish the Exelon-NPRE Visionary Scholarship Fund is another example of Exelon’s long-term vision."
In addition to providing financial support, Exelon has consistently awarded NPRE students internships, and participated in job fairs, including NPRE’s own SPEED Interchange event. For 10 years, SPEED Interchange has invited representatives to share their company’s information with students and offer them career advice.
“NPRE has been a continual resource of high quality people to fill openings that we have had in operations engineering, reactor engineering, nuclear fuels, and other engineering positions within our fleet,” said McVey. “We have maintained this relationship for many years and recognize the effort that the faculty and staff at NPRE have made to support the needs that we have and work with us to identify those students who will be good fits for jobs at Exelon. These efforts have been very successful as evidenced by our attrition rate for NPRE alumni.
“The job fairs and internships have been an excellent way for us to educate the students about who Exelon is and what career opportunities there are in nuclear power and with Exelon, and then identify those students that will be good fits for a career at Exelon,” McVey continued. “The University of Illinois is one of the top schools for Exelon’s new graduate hires in many areas of the company, including Generation, utilities, and business support organizations. For Exelon to be successful in nuclear power, we have to have a continuous supply of engineers, and especially nuclear engineers. NPRE has provided us this supply of high quality nuclear engineers for many years and it’s important that they have the resources to continue to do so.
“This scholarship fund can be utilized to encourage young people to consider a career in nuclear power – people who might never have had the opportunity or even considered nuclear power as an option. These people will be engineers and leaders throughout our organization.”
McVey plans to encourage NPRE alumni now working at Exelon to consider supporting the new fund as well. “I have made similar efforts in the past to support other NPRE scholarship funds with very good success,” he said. “Since an employee can donate to a scholarship that is tied directly to Exelon, have Exelon match their contribution, and receive a dollar-for-dollar match from The Grainger Foundation, I expect an even greater response from our Exelon employees who are alumni of NPRE at Illinois.
“We believe it is important to provide opportunities for our current employees to pay forward the education that NPRE provided them,” McVey maintained. “Additionally, participation in events at NPRE, including job fairs, seminars, recruiting, and mentoring of interns, provides invaluable opportunities to our employees to develop themselves and makes their careers more fulfilling. Personally, helping students find jobs or make career decisions over the years is one of the most rewarding aspects of my job.”
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