John Custer

Bismarck State College

Adjunct Professor in Nuclear Power Technology

We are pleased to provide you with some thoughts from John Custer who is now an Adjunct Professor in Nuclear Power Technology for BSC after a long career in the nuclear power industry.

You were in the industry before you became an Adjunct Professor in Nuclear Power Technology for BSC .  How long were you in the industry before you retired, and who did you work for?

I was in nuclear power from 1966 to 2014 – 48 years. I worked primarily for Westinghouse, Mississippi Power and Light, Duke Energy and Services, and American Electric Power.

What position(s) did you have?

Shift Manager, Training Manager, Engineering Supervisor, Training Instructor, Instructional Technologist

What drew you to the nuclear industry?

I had wanted to be involved in nuclear power since I was about 8 years old. I had always been fascinated by the subject, and read as much and took as many classes on the subject as I could before I got my first job in nuclear power, which was my first job out of college.

Which course(s) do you teach in the Nuclear Power Technology Program?

I have taught most of the nuclear courses over the ten years I have been teaching for BSC – Thermodynamics, Safety Design, Reactor Theory, Print Reading, Instrumentation and Control, Electrical Theory, Material Science, Conduct of Facility Operations, etc.

What value do professors who have been in the industry bring to the classroom?

Professors who have worked in the industry bring a wealth of experience and knowledge that enrich and give a deeper understanding of the material in the class. Such professors can present not only the information in the book but can help the information come to life by presenting their experiences with the material in a nuclear plant. Professors with industry backgrounds can explain how the information in the book is actually used in a power plant.

How important is an industry-approved education in meeting the competencies needed for a job in the nuclear industry?

If the utility relies on a college program to provide the necessary competencies, like some of the larger nuclear utilities, then the importance of this program is huge and absolutely vital to the student’s success, because the utility relies on the student to come to work on the first day with a sound understanding of nuclear fundamentals.

Do you have any advice for current or future students in the EPCE-sponsored NUPT program at BSC?

The BSC program is the best program I know of for preparing a student for success in the nuclear industry. Since most BSC students are working while taking classes, it takes them longer than two years to finish the program, so I would advise working students to periodically review the classes they have taken so the information is fresh when they start work, because they will be expected to know and be able to use the information when they come to work.