Joe Rineer

Bismarck State College

Equipment Operator, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Exelon

Joe Rineer began his career as a security guard at one of Exelon’s nuclear plants.  He heard about the online Associate of Applied Science in Nuclear Power Technology degree at Bismarck State College from some co-workers and decided to take the plunge and register for the program.  Having previously served in the military, he was able to advance a level and skip placement tests.

As a security guard, Joe worked both day and night shifts, so an online degree was the best way to for him to keep up on school work while accommodating his ever-changing schedule.  His professors were “really flexible as far as getting work turned in,” and made time to communicate with Joe at all hours. “It was easy to correspond through email and even phone calls.”

The support of his family and his company made it easier for Joe to complete his degree. Exelon fully reimbursed his tuition, and allowed him to complete school work during breaks at his job.  His wife and children were also very supportive.  “There was basically an understanding with my family that this was something that was going to better all of us.”  As a result of his hard work, time management, and support system, Joe finished his degree in May of 2013.

Joe had his sights set on becoming an Equipment Operator at his plant, a position that requires a six-month training course.  He was promoted to an Equipment Operator in February 2015.  He is grateful for his degree in Nuclear Power Technology because of the knowledge base it provided him. “That whole degree is tailored to the equipment operator training.  Post-graduation, it helped me out a good bit as far as preparing me for the placement tests.” Even in his current job in nuclear security, Joe found the coursework to be relevant and useful. “The degree helped me a lot with understanding how the plant works and really understand why you’re there for security.”

Having already introduced several people to the program, Joe has advice for those who might be thinking about an online degree with Bismarck and EPCE. “I thought it was an awesome program. It’s worth it, hands down. If you’re going to do it, do it all at one time and get it over with. If you’re working a full-time job, it’s definitely the degree for you, and it’s not as hard as what you would think it would be.”