Real World Internship Seals the Deal

January 6, 2016 | | Internal Press Release, Student Success

emily peigen on the job at xcelenergy

Chattanooga, TN (January 6, 2016) --- Gaining perspective in a real world workplace reassured Emily Peigen that she had made the correct career choice. As a student in Chattanooga State’s Engineering Technology Power Plant Operations program, Emily realized that all the book knowledge she acquired over the course of the program challenged her to apply what she had learned into real life situations during an internship at Watts Bar Nuclear Plant. Bolstered by her success, Emily is now a Performance Testing and Analysis Technician at XcelEnergy Texas.

XcelEnergy supplies electric power and natural gas services to eight states and Emily works in the Texas/New Mexico region. As a cooling tower and pump expert, Emily calibrates and sets up all of her own equipment, ranging from power meters to pressure transmitters and thermocouples.

Uncovering problems, reporting the findings, and making recommendations are part of her job. “Recently, I performed a test on a condensate pump because they were unable to run one pump over 40 percent power without causing a back up pump to kick-in,” shares Emily. Running a six-hour test at different loads uncovered several problems. “I was able to present to the plant my report on the findings and a recommendation on how to address the problem during the next outage,” states Emily.

In field dominated by men, Emily is one of a growing number of women entering the nuclear power workforce. Doing her homework before deciding on a career, Emily spoke with friends as well as Chattanooga State instructors. She credits Lisa (Tami) Miller as one of her greatest inspirations and says, “Ms. Miller previously worked in nuclear power operations. She is extremely knowledgeable and really stands out among her peers. Besides having a great knowledge base of power plant operations, she will push you to succeed.”

Emily’s ultimate goal is to become a testing specialist within her field of work. “I am going to be returning to school to take classes and finish my Bachelor’s degree in Engineering Technology while I am working so that one day I can step into a leadership role,” she states.

For more information on Chattanooga State’s Nuclear Power Engineering Technology Concentration, visit or call 423-697-4434.