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Vermont Yankee celebrates National Engineering Week

In recognition of National Engineers Week, (Feb. 19-25), Vermont Yankee  is proud to feature two engineers who recently joined the VY family. Their career stories correlate with the vision of the Engineers Week Coalition – to be the global leader in cultivating and celebrating the engineering profession.

Kenyon Webber – electrical design engineer


“I was always curious about how things worked,” said Vermont Yankee Electrical Design     Engineer Kenyon Webber.  “I always had the urge to take things apart and then try to put them back together. Unfortunately, my parental figures did not share that same curiosity, so it wasn’t until high school that I really got the opportunity to delve into how things actually worked.”

  A native of Memphis, Tenn., Webber is one of Vermont Yankee’s newest engineers, having  joined the Entergy family in October 2010. In her position at Vermont Yankee, she is a member of Design Engineering – Electrical workgroup.  As a design engineer, she helps to ensure the plant has clear, well documented, understood and justified design, and licensing bases.  She is also an active member of Vermont Yankee’s Women In Nuclear and NA-YGN chapters.

Webber credits her high school guidance counselor, Mrs. Blanchard, and her math teacher, Mrs. Childers, for helping foster her desire to learn more about science careers.

 ”At first, I thought I wanted to become a doctor, an obstetrician to be exact. Mrs. Blanchard encouraged and helped me enroll in the health & science programs at the University of Tennessee, a program for high school students interested in careers in science.” That was when she realized that her desire to learn about parts was leading her down the electrical engineering path, rather than becoming a doctor. “Wires hidden in walls are very much like studying the veins in the body; they are central to making things work correctly.”

 Webber earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tenn. Part of her college experience included being a co-op electrical systems engineer with the Jackson Energy Authority in Jackson, Tenn.

 While at TTU, Webber served as the chair of Engineering Week activities. “During E Week, middle school girls were invited to participate in the Engineering – A Future program. The program involved science related activities and games to promote interest in mathematics and engineering sciences,” said Webber. “Activities included coordinate/number games, chemistry experiments, and building electrical circuits such as, extracting DNA from strawberries and building voice changers.”

“E Week was a very rewarding experience,” said Webber. “The girls were very thankful for the opportunity to explore science. One comment often heard was ‘I never thought I could do this.’ E Week truly helps young women build the self confidence to pursue a career in science.”

 Webber’s future career plans are to continue increasing her proficiency in her current position at VY while preparing for the accreditation exam to earn her Professional Engineering License. Later, Webber plans to earn an MBA degree.

 Last week Webber returned to her history of promoting science to students by volunteering at the Windham Regional Career Center EXPO with the VY WIN and NA-YGN chapters.

 Thanks, Kenyon, for sharing your story with the VY family. You are an inspiration for all of us!  Shine on!

Brian O’Callahan – programs and components engineer

 “My dad isn’t mechanically inclined,” said Programs and Components Engineer Brian O’Callahan. “When I was a kid, he bought a play swing set and proudly set it up in the yard, assembly required. Shortly afterwards he left on a business trip. I took that opportunity to reconfigure the swing set to factory standards.”

 O’Callahan, a new engineer to Vermont Yankee, joined the VY family in October 2010. O’Callahan’s specializes in maintaining Vermont Yankee’s air operated valves.

 Born and raised in Medway, Mass., O’Callahan attended Medway High School. “I always had an interest in how things worked; mathematics and physics just fueled my curiosity,” said O’Callahan.

 “In Mr. Duncan’s physics class, we built a catapult, a machine that hurls a projectile. The specific design was a Trebuchet, a catapult that is powered by a massive counterweight on one end of an arm, and a sling on the other end. The football field was our test range.”  From that point on, engineering had him hooked.

 After graduating high school, O’Callahan attended Massachusetts Maritime Academy located in Buzzards Bay, Mass. There he earned a bachelor’s degree in facilities engineering, focused on power plant engineering. O’Callahan’s educational experiences include a co-op program at the University of Massachusets Medical Center, where he focused on maintenance of a power plant and studied business administration of power plant operations. A second co-op program took him to Milton Cat (a Caterpillar franchise in Milford, Mass.) where he was responsible for managing a corporate facilities program.

 After graduating from the Academy, O’Callahan began his professional engineering career as a corporate facilities engineer for Milton Cat, and later as a project manager for the Milton Cat Power Systems Division. He was employed by Milton Cat for five years.

 When O’Callahan joined Vermont Yankee as a member of the programs and components engineering team, he took charge of the air operated valve program. “Most systems have AOVs associated with them,” said O’Callahan. “We trouble shoot and evaluate valve performance and ensure the required PMs are performed.”

 During RFO 29, O’Callahan was the data analyzer for diagnostic testing of AOVs.  Throughout his continued career at Vermont Yankee, O’Callahan plans to develop his knowledge of VY plant systems.  

 Congratulations on your achievements, Brian. Sounds like your high school physics class was your catapult into the world of engineering.