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There’s a Knight on duty at the Edwin I. Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has selected UCF mechanical engineering alumnus Phil Niebaum ’00 as the senior inspector resident of the plant after fulfilling various positions within the organization.

“I am confident that Phil’s experience will make him a valuable asset to the resident inspector office at Plant Hatch,” said NRC Region II Administrator Laura Dudes in a release. “He has a proven track record of success inspecting nuclear power plants for safe operation and will continue to uphold the NRC’s high standards for nuclear safety at the site.”

In his new role, Niebaum will conduct inspections of the plant, ensure the site complies with federal requirements and the operating license, and respond to plant events and emergencies with public health and safety in mind.

Niebaum previously served as the senior resident inspector of the Columbia Generating Station in Washington and the Farley nuclear power plant in Alabama. He’s held several other positions within the NRC since 2006, including resident inspector of the Hatch and Browns Ferry nuclear power plants, and project engineer in the Region II office.

“Working for the NRC was not my first plan,” Niebaum says. “After graduating UCF in 2000, I had three prior jobs, but it seemed like a great fit and I leveraged my previous nuclear experience from the several years I spent involved with the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program.”

His time in the Navy, spent as an electronics technician, sparked an interest in mechanical engineering. With a scholarship in hand and a high school degree from Orlando, UCF was a natural fit for Niebaum. He not only earned a bachelor’s degree from the university but met his wife on campus. He says some of his favorite memories including swapping stories with other student veterans in the library and working with other engineering students from various backgrounds.

The UCF alum said he’s learned several lessons from his time in college that have helped him throughout his career, including to continue learning and exercising his brain. The advice he would pass on to current students? Explore your choices and stay flexible.

“Engineering is very broad…Take advantage of it and find something you really enjoy doing.” Niebaum says. “Consider the military or federal civil service. Finally, become an expert at something, this will make you more valuable to current and future employers as well as clients.”