GSE Systems, Inc. (GSE) (NYSE Amex:GVP), a leading global provider of real-time simulation and training solutions to the power, process, manufacturing and Government sectors announces the success of its Nuclear Operator Jump Start Program. The program, now in its fourth class, was designed to fill Southern Nuclear Company’s (SNC) “pipeline” for licensed reactor operators for their new-build plants and to prepare operator candidates for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Generic Fundamentals Examinations (GFES). The program is being conducted at the campus of Augusta Technical College (ATC) in Georgia.

SNC’s new-build units, Vogtle 3 and 4 must meet several key milestones in order to support the testing, fuel load and start-up. SNC’s response to the challenge included developing a partnership with GSE to create a Nuclear Operator Jump Start Program for new instructors and operator candidates. “The unique aspect of the Jump Start Course is that it immerses the candidates in realistic, integrated plant operations by use of a soft panel simulator,” explains SNC’s Training Deployment Manager, Charlie Nesbitt.

Since the first class began in July 2009, 31 candidates have participated in the program. Of these, 21 operations instructors and 9 senior reactor operators have successfully completed the program. All 9 senior reactor operator candidates passed NRC GFES. GSE, in cooperation with ATC, is under contract to SNC to train and screen all potential training and operations personnel hired to staff Vogtle Units 3 and 4.

GSE developed the 20 week Jump Start course to include three sections; fundamentals, plant systems and operations. The fundamentals section includes, but is not limited to, the GFES materials as required by the NRC. The plant systems section teaches plant-specific systems material while the operations section provides hands-on training on GSE’s, full-scope VPanel simulator running the reference plant simulation load.

Knowledge retention is checked throughout the course with weekly tests requiring the students to maintain an 80% average or better, the same pass / fail criteria used in a traditional initial license class. All three sections are taught and evaluated at a licensed operator training level.

Nuclear industry statistics show that the Initial License Trainee (ILT) throughput rate, from entry to license, was approximately 60% in 2009. Given a typical ILT class size of 15 candidates, a utility can expect 6 of the candidates to fail to obtain an NRC license. Assuming an approximate salary and benefits package of $350 thousand per student for the 18-24 month ILT program period, the cost of the 6 failures in salaries alone is $2.1 million. After factoring in related financial costs; overtime for current licensed operators, Institute of Nuclear Power Operations accreditation issues, instructor and material costs, and loss of simulator time, losing 40% of the class can cost a utility over $3 million.

“We are extremely pleased with the results of the Nuclear Operator Jump Start Training Program developed for SNC and want to stress that there are many applications for our training programs across the industry,” explains GSE CEO, Jim Eberle. “Our programs aren’t limited to the nuclear operator training market. We also offer more extensive fundamentals training for candidates with little to no plant experience and Industrial Fundamentals training for non-nuclear candidates.”

GSE Systems, Inc. provides training simulators and educational solutions. The Company has over three decades of experience, over 362 installations, and 100 customers in more than 40 countries. Our software, hardware and integrated training solutions leverage proven technologies to deliver real-world business advantages to the energy, process, manufacturing and government sectors worldwide. GSE Systems is headquartered in Sykesville, Maryland located in the western suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. Our global locations include offices in St. Marys and Augusta, Georgia; Tarrytown, New York; Nyköping, Sweden; Stockton-on-Tees, UK; and Beijing, China. Information about GSE Systems is available via the Internet at

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Copyright Business Wire 2010