Electric Power Research Institute Return
E-learning Fundamentals Curriculum Prepares New Nuclear Power Plant Personnel

Project Summary

  • Industry: Energy
  • Target Audience: New nuclear plant engineers
  • Challenges:
    • Engineers hired with specific degrees must have general engineering knowledge to work in a nuclear power plant
    • Deciding the level and amount of content to include in courses
    • Ensuring courses have appropriate amount of "real world" scenarios


  • Solutions:
    • Comprehensive E-learning suite of courses
    • Industry experts engaged to work as subject matter experts
    • All courses updated recently to conform to industry training standards
  • Results:
    • Newly hired engineers in nuclear power plants complete the curriculum
    • More than 14,000 completed courses within the U.S. since implementation in 2007
    • Noticeable increase in pass rates by new engineers

Project Description


The Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) supports a worldwide membership of more than 1,000 organizations through research, development, and demonstration (RD&D). Many of its members use nuclear energy to generate electricity. Engineering personnel at U.S. nuclear power plants are subject to defined training requirements to drive continued excellence.

As a result, EPRI sought to provide for its members an engineering fundamentals curriculum that would be compliant with industry training standards and could be implemented via an online system.


Handshaw worked over a number of years with EPRI project management and industry subject matter experts to design and develop the courses that make up the curriculum:

  1. Basic Nuclear Physics and Reactor Theory
  2. Chemistry
  3. Civil Engineering
  4. Core Protection
  5. Electrical Engineering
  6. Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow
  7. Mechanical Engineering
  8. Nuclear Power Plant Materials
  9. Process Control Systems

Design Considerations

Handshaw began by consulting industry training requirements for the first two courses developed in the curriculum: Heat Transfer and Fluid Flow, and Mechanical Engineering Topics. Consultants adapted standard instructional design methodologies to the technical content associated with engineering disciplines at nuclear plants. It's not possible, for example, to observe an engineer being an engineer in the same manner that a consultant can observe a bank teller performing tasks.

As a result, EPRI identified industry subject matter experts to provide the level of detail required for the courses. With EPRI’s guidance, Handshaw worked with subject matter experts to design the first two courses that balanced theory and plant applications. Upon completion of those, Handshaw and EPRI solicited feedback from member utilities to improve the original two courses and form the foundational design for all remaining courses. To develop the remainder of the curriculum, EPRI worked with utilities on content while Handshaw designers focused on development of instructional media and final course production.

Development and Implementation

Handshaw developed the E-learning modules using Lumenix® Developer. Recent changes to nuclear industry training requirements compelled revisions to the courses, which were easily completed because the courses were maintained in our database.


EPRI has offered the courses to members since 2004 but saw a dramatic uptick in completions when courses were implemented via an online learning management system. More than 14,000 courses have been completed within the U.S. since implementation in 2007. Today, newly hired nuclear plant personnel at EPRI member utilities complete the fundamentals curriculum. This provides a level of assurance that engineers from all disciplines have a baseline knowledge of the fundamentals of the other engineering specialties covered in these courses and an appreciation of how everyone works together to ensure the safety of the plant and surrounding community.