Professional Development Program (PDP)

The Professional Development Program is designed to recruit, train, and retain high-quality employees who are capable of supporting the Board in carrying out its oversight responsibilities. The Professional Development Program is a means to bring new talent into professional positions within the Board through a series of individually tailored developmental assignments, through formal academic schooling, and an extensive "hands-on" field assignment at one of the Department of Energy (DOE) sites or with a private company, national laboratory or other government agency. New employees are placed in entry-level permanent positions specifically tailored to provide broad developmental training and specialized technical training appropriate to their field. After completion of the 3-year program, the employee is considered a full professional staff member.

About the DNFSB

The Board is an independent agency in the Executive branch of the government, charged with providing safety oversight of the Department of Energy's (DOE's) defense nuclear facilities. Established in September 1988, the Board provides the public with added assurance that DOE's defense nuclear facilities, required to maintain the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, are being safely designed, constructed, operated, and decommissioned. In addition, the Board shares responsibility with other federal and state agencies for major environmental restoration activities. The specific duties for entry-level engineers are highly technical and diverse. Their duties and activities include analysis and design, interaction with accomplished technical staff and experts across the defense nuclear complex, mentoring from the Board's senior technical staff, and interaction with Board members and world class experts. As part of their assignments, entry-level engineers participate in technical reviews at defense nuclear sites and attend technical meetings and conferences in their areas of concentration and expertise.


Main Office in Washington, DC

Year One

Orients the individual to the Board's mission, organization, policies, and operation, including an overview of and interaction with the spectrum of technical projects. Examples of first year assignments include:

  1. Reviewing the design and safety of the In-Tank Precipitation facility at the Savannah River site.
  2. Analyzing explosive hazards in process tanks at the Rocky Flats Plant and the Savannah River site by modeling the generation of build-up of flammable gases and vapor mixing.
  3. Calculating thermal gradients in nuclear components and modeling corrosion rates to forecast the remaining lives of vessels that contain radioactive materials.
  4. Analyzing impacts of waste acceptance criteria for plutonium residues.
  5. Researching treatment and disposal options of spent nuclear fuel.

Year Two

The individual has to attend graduate school. While in school, the Board pays the full tuition as well as a full-time salary. Selection of graduate school and course of study are mutually agreed upon by the Board and individual. In the past, entry-level engineers have completed studies at MIT, Stanford, Illinois, Cornell, Georgia Tech and Berkeley.

Year Three

Individual spends approximately one year on a challenging technical assignment. Possibilities include working at one of the DOE sites with a Board Site Representative, with a private company, national laboratory or other government agency. Examples of host companies include: Westinghouse, Los Alamos National Lab, Duke Power, US Army Corps of Engineers, Millstone Nuclear Power Station, and Oak Ridge.

Essential Skills & Qualifications

A 3.5 GPA or higher is preferred. Excellent communication skills, the ability to work as a technical contributor on multi-disciplinary teams. Must be a self-starter. US citizenship required. Ability to obtain and maintain Top Secret or "Q" level security clearance. Pre & Post employment drug test required.

Technical Disciplines

Mechanical Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Earthquake Engineering (Civil Engineering), Electrical Engineering and Engineering Physics.

For details go to the Professional Development Program Handbook.