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The NRC dating service?

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Future NRC engineers? (from CBS Big Bang Theory)

Future NRC engineers? (from CBS' Big Bang Theory)

It seems like everybody’s got a new idea for attracting new talent to the federal government these days. But Jim McDermott, chief human capital officer of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, thinks he’s found a foolproof way to convince young engineers to come to his agency: Find them dates.

“There are incentives, and then there are incentives,” McDermott told a crowd of human resources officials at the HCMF Conference in Arlington, Va., earlier today. ”When we’re hiring, we say, ‘Is there a significant other in the picture?’ If there’s no significant other, I tell them, ‘We can help.’ ”

McDermott said his unorthodox recruitment pitch works because while nuclear engineers may know how to split atoms, they’re not quite so adept on the dating front:

McDermott

McDermott

“Now, engineers study a lot in college,” McDermott said. “They neglect very important extracurricular activities. My girls went to school with engineers, [and] they said, ‘Dad, they don’t know how to dance, they don’t know how to dress, they don’t even know how to talk.’ ”

Engineers may not necessarily become better dancers by taking a job at NRC, but McDermott said they can meet other single engineers (who probably won’t roll their eyes at Star Trek or lectures on reactor cooling systems). McDermott said NRC’s dating scheme — which he jokingly called “NRC Harmony,” after the eHarmony online dating service — has so far resulted in about eight or nine weddings.

McDermott’s comments made me think of the sitcom Big Bang Theory, which features hopelessly nerdy theoretical physicists and their often-failed efforts to find romance. McDermott said he’s seen bits of the show, which hit close to home: “I thought I was watching something on the NRC.”

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Comments

  1. The POGO Watercooler » archive » Watercooler Quote of the Day: 11/17/09 (Talk Nerdy to Me?) Says:
    November 17th, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    [...] officer of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, on one of the NRC’s recruitment strategies: offering a dating service to help single nuclear engineers meet one another (which “has so far resulted in about eight [...]

  2. Elizabeth Says:
    November 18th, 2009 at 5:14 pm

    I have a degree in nuclear engineering and work at NRC. Wow, what a sense of humor this guy has. What would make me laugh even harder would involve circulating a petition to have this buffoon fired. What kind of human capital management officer says stupid things like this to the press? Rule #1 in HR should be not to stereotype people. With all the unemployed people out there, I’m sure we could easily find someone to take this guy’s slot who wouldn’t make the agency look ridiculous.

  3. Chris Says:
    November 18th, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    I think this is cool and all, but history is full of examples of geeky guys getting gorgeous women. Still, a very ingenious recruiting technique. Cheers

  4. NRC Employee Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 7:09 am

    How insulting. It’s amazing how “smart” Jim is that he can paint all NRC employees with one large brush-stroke! He may want to learn that sometimes it’s better to keep his big mouth shut. I wonder if he looked at what he said and reflected, “Hmmm, I WONDER if there was a better way that I could have said that?”

  5. The NRC Reality Show Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    The comments from the NRC HR Director are consistent with the agency’s handling of employment matters, especially Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) matters. It is a joke. The NRC EEO briefings focus more on sharing pictures of pizza parties and holiday parties than NRC’s continued disparity in the hiring and promotion of women and minorities. Is this truly the best place to work in the federal government??? If so, then we are in big trouble. Checkout the transcripts on NRC’s EEO Commission meetings on NRC’s website.

  6. Matthew Graybosch Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 3:23 pm

    What is this guy smoking, and where can I get some?

  7. Engineer Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I’ve been told that Mr. McDermott is often full of wit and humor. Printed media probably captures such qualities little better than e-mails. Perhaps such remarks shouldn’t be made in the presence of the press, but do you really want to work where humor and wit are not allowed? Or are NRC-grade engineers completely unable to value such? Hopefully they’re not the type to jump to conclusions.

  8. Female Scientist Says:
    November 19th, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I think Mr. McDermott has a very valid point. Many scientists and engineers need help finding dates (and keeping them). There are many reasons why helping scientists get dates would actually improve the work environment; the most important is the betterment of morale that would occur. I think that before you continue to bash this guy, you should think about how a program like that could improve your life and/or work environment.

  9. Another NRC engineer Says:
    November 20th, 2009 at 5:44 am

    In these tough times, wit and humor are something to be truly appreciated. Jim’s comments were most assuredly meant to be harmless, but it is unfortunate the way they were quoted and that some NRC employees would take offense to them. At least Jim recognizes that there is more to happiness than one’s take home pay and benefits – The social aspects of a job have a lot of play in job satisfaction. That will be more evident once a deeply indebted Uncle Sam is forced to ask his employees for sacrifices in the future.

  10. regulor Says:
    November 20th, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Why is it that people can take an amusing aside and turn it into some huge politcal correctness issue? NRC happens to be a great place to work and like it or not, a significant number of couples have met, dated, married, and eventually placed their children in the onsite child-care center. There are second and third generation NRC families. What on earth is so bad about recognizing that? NRC staff are bright, engaging interesting people. Why would some of them not get together in the normal course of events.

    PS -don’t blame NRC for an EEO complaint process which is skewed toward failure to achieve its purported goals. NRC follows the process and tries very hard to resolve issues fairly. Its interesting that complaints about issues like this rarely include details or specifics.

  11. Anon Says:
    November 20th, 2009 at 9:36 am

    Where I went to school, all the hot cheerleader types went for the HR guys!

  12. Another NRC Employee Says:
    November 20th, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Once again Media always picks bits and pieces of what they want to exploit; which is usually negative and unfortunately very influencial to the public. This is why it is so important to understand who your audience is and what is appropriate for that audience. The NRC is still the best place to work in the federal government. This is just a hard lesson learned.

  13. NerdyGirl Says:
    November 20th, 2009 at 1:51 pm

    Who let the Muggles in? They’re the only ones who are whinging about what McDermott said. When your head is full of crunchy data goodness, it’s smart to have someone who understands that you don’t have time to get all “socially smooth” like the Muggles are. There are too many interesting things to research and process…

  14. Breakup Girl » Dating: the nuclear option Says:
    November 23rd, 2009 at 12:51 pm

    [...] Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s strategy for attracting bright young talent gives new meaning to the phrase “nuclear [...]

  15. Yet another NRC Employee Says:
    November 23rd, 2009 at 3:07 pm

    wa wa wa wa wa offended wa wa wa wa wa about everything wa wa wa wa wa all the time wa wa wa for no real reason wa wa wa just like to whine wa wa wa because wa wa wa wa wa my sense of humor is broken wa wa wa so I’ll have a hissy fit…

  16. Still another NRC Engineer Says:
    November 25th, 2009 at 8:16 am

    All this commentary has inspired the following:

    Talk Nerdy to Me
    by Burnable Poison
    (A shameless parody)

    You know I never
    Thought about the EDO
    The problems at the EEO
    But I like you!
    And I know you like me too
    We’re in perfect harmony
    And so regulatory
    Oh yes we are

    They told me
    Told me there’d be benefits
    But never benefits like this
    What incentives!
    And I know you like them too
    And all your Values true
    And so regulatory
    ‘Cause baby we’ll be

    At the office
    In the NRC
    At the All Hands
    “Hey baby I’m a PhD”
    It’s not PC, but
    Close the breakroom door
    And baby
    Talk Nerdy to Me!

  17. NRC Employee Says:
    November 27th, 2009 at 10:44 am

    Wow, I really can’t believe people are getting offended by this. Usually people who get offended by something so harmless (you guessed it) have nothing else better to do or going for them. There are people who are starving, homeless, may have malignant things wrong with them, and are still happy. Yet people who are successful and have some type of educational background (i.e. the engineers who got offended), get so perturbed about something that in no way shape or form, is going to make their job any less easier, or harder, is not going to promote or demote them, basically is not going to affect their life in any way. Ones who get so easily offended just want some type of drama or something to complain about to keep their lives a little more entertaining, because at home, believe it or not folks it gets boring for these types of people. Who cares about what Mr. McDermott said, (who is very nice to work with and does have a sense of humor), move on and grow up, or better yet, go play the World of Warcraft!

  18. CHAIM PADDAMAN Says:
    December 8th, 2009 at 6:46 am

    shalom
    WHAT AN INTERESTING SITE. PLEASE, VIEW MY VIDEO, CHAIM PADDAMAN SUPPORTS THE BIG BANG THEORY PART 2 – CHAIM DOESNT PAY. IT IS A JEWISH TONGUE IN CHEEK RESONSE TO THE BIG BANG THEORY ON CBS. AVAILABLE ON YOU TUBE.

    CHUCK LORRE AND BILL PRADY WANTS US (NERDS) TO BELIEVE THAT SHALLOW KALEY CUOCO IS OUR FRIEND, PROTECTOR AND CHEERLEADER. WE MIGHT BE SOCIALLY AWKWARD, BUT HELL, WE ARE NOT STUPID. IT IS A MAD , MAD WORLD. WHAT IS NEXT. PARIS HILTON PORTRAYING MOTHER THERESA IN HER EPIC LIFE STORY.
    LIKE BILL AND CHUCK, I ALSO HAVE AN OVERWHELMING URGE TO WRITE ABOUT FUNNY THINGS.

    CHAIM PADDAMAN
    JEWISH NERD.