Resident Engineers: What goes around, comes around for the nuclear industry

Over the past several months, AREVA began ramping up its Resident Engineer (RE) program again, which was first introduced more than 20 years ago.

In alignment with AREVA’s four pillars of Operational Excellence – Safety, Quality, Performance, and Delivery – the revamped RE program was launched as a way to further enhance customer satisfaction and more quickly respond to customer needs. Each Resident Engineer is directly linked with the customer, which enables them to offer immediate solutions for emergent needs.

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“The program has absolutely been successful,” said Lee Williams, senior vice president of Installed Base Projects at AREVA Inc. “The Resident Engineers are the face of AREVA at many of our customer sites, and are equipped with connections and partners who can help our customers solve a problem before it escalates.”

What do they do?

Resident Engineers are responsible for providing technical and operational support for the customer, when needed. They need to understand their customers’ objectives and priorities in order to provide the best service. One of the biggest challenges REs face is finding the balance between an engineering, communication and sales role.

“It takes a special kind of person to be a Resident Engineer” said Frank Barilla, Manager, IB-Projects Strategy, Planning & Performance Improvement, “It is crucial that they have a lot of experience, and are very flexible and willing to learn. Each Resident Engineer needs to have a broad range of knowledge about AREVA’s structure and capabilities and must be able to listen to the customer and serve them in the best way possible using AREVA’s resources.”

What is the future?

The RE program continues to grow and evolve in today’s nuclear industry. According to Taylor Smith, Project Engineer and one of the program developers, “Our goal is to make the Resident Engineer program beneficial to all stakeholders involved. For our participating customers, this means experiencing firsthand AREVA’s capabilities through our onsite Resident Engineers. For AREVA, the company will continue to enjoy the benefits of a close customer relationship along with future business opportunities. And lastly, for the RE, this means developing the experience and networking abilities crucial to career advancement, by working directly with customers in their intense environment.” This sound approach will help ensure a solid footing for the future of Resident Engineers.

It’s been said that the nuclear industry is cyclic in nature, and that programs may fade in and out of style. While this may be true, AREVA is taking strong steps to ensure the customer-focused Resident Engineer program is here to stay.