Looking Back: A Brief History of CONTE

By Dr. Jane LeClair

The accident that occurred at Three Mile Island on March 28, 1979, brought about many changes to the nuclear industry. Among the changes was the industry stopping to reflect on current procedures and the training of its employees. Exhorted by the findings of the Kemeny Commission and sponsored by the Department of Energy, industry leaders and training personnel began meeting on improvements to training at the Gatlinburg Conference in the early 1980’s.

A popular event for the exchange of ideas, the annual meeting was by many accounts the largest gathering of personnel involved in nuclear training. It continued in Gatlinburg until 1998 when the event moved to the Peabody Orlando and renamed the Conference on Nuclear Training and Education (CONTE). Three years later in 2001, the conference changed to a biannual gathering in Orlando and ran as such until 2007. That year (2007), big changes happened with CONTE as it merged with the American Nuclear Society (ANS), was folded into the Education, Training, Workforce Development Division (ETWDD) and began holding its meetings in Jacksonville, Fla. This highly informative and educational gathering continued to meet biannually during the month of February in Jacksonville, Fla. until 2017. Following the 2017 meeting, board members, acting on input from participants, decided to move the venue to nearby St. Augustine, Fla.

In 2019, The Conference on Nuclear Training and Education: A Biennial International Forum, will be held at World Golf Village, Renaissance St. Augustine Resort in St. Augustine, Fla., February 5-7, 2019. As always, the emphasis of this biennial international forum will be on the future of the nuclear industry and is aimed primarily at training, education and workforce development. At the upcoming meeting topics of interest will include issues involving personnel and operator training, human performance, cybersecurity, accreditation/international standards, leadership, simulator/ simulations, and much more.

Over the years CONTE, in its various forms, has continued to provide the industry with a cornucopia of information that participants have taken back to their respective plants to improve training. From its beginnings the event has had but one goal, to improve the safety of operations so that the likelihood of another Three Mile accident is lessened.

Registration for the conference is now open. We look forward to your participation.


Dr. Jane LeClairDr. Jane LeClair is the President and Chief Operating Officer of the Washington Center for Cybersecurity Research & Development. She currently serves on the cybersecurity advisory board for Thomas Edison State University. Dr. LeClair has written and edited numerous books, journals, and articles related to cybersecurity and technology, and she is a staunch advocate for women in technology. Her latest book, Cybersecurity for Small Businesses and Non-profits, was recently released.

Feel free to leave a constructive remark or question for the author in the comment section below.

4 thoughts on “Looking Back: A Brief History of CONTE

  1. Ann Winters

    Jane, so glad to see the continuing good work of CONTE. I enjoyed serving on the organizing/planning committee from its inception in the mid-1990s until I retired from INPO in 2011. It was one of the highlights of my nuclear career.
    CONTE’s focus on industry training, education, and workforce issues provides a great service to the industry.
    Wishing you and everyone another very successful CONTE!!
    All the best, Ann Winters

  2. Ken Bockman

    Reacting to devolpi’s last sentence: I don’t understand what the plant operators could have done to avert the 3 meltdowns. Available power sources were quickly depleted, and off plant resources were tied up with humanitarian emergencies.

  3. Sushil Birla

    Thank you for the history of CONTE, Dr. LeClair. Workforce Development is a very critical part of assuring safety and security, esp. with the changing technological environment. The industry did well in its licensed operator program. However, with increasing automation, the automation developers are a critical link in the safety chain. Any thoughts on their certification and licensing?

  4. devolpi

    Yes, but: Neither the agencies nor accident commissions have ever seen the elephant in the room, namely there was no means for the operators to actually know how much WATER was in the vessel. As the National Academy of Science has observed, there was not then, nor since been independent ex-vessel nuclear water-level monitoring systems mandated or installed. Same situation applies to Fukushima: One or two of the meltdowns might have been averted if they knew how much water was in the vessels.

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