KNOXVILLE—Ongoing wars, past conflicts, and military training have resulted in large numbers of unexploded munitions littering the United States and countries around the world.
The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in partnership with Maryville-based company Relyant, is offering a new training program to fill the growing need for technicians who are skilled at detecting, identifying, removing, and destroying those weapons to prevent the loss of limb or life.
Program organizers say the Unexploded Ordnance (UXO) training course is one of only a handful in the country and possibly the first in the eastern United States.
The first seven-week course begins today, April 2, and has drawn participants locally and as far away as Washington state who will be coming to Knoxville to participate. It will be offered through UT’s Non-Credit Programs.
Between 8:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Thursday, April 5, course participants will demonstrate their gear and examples of devices with which they’ll be working at the UT Middlebrook Pike Building, 5723 Middlebrook Pike.
“The UXO program fits into the university’s mission of public service and economic development,” said Robert Gibbs, executive director of UT Conferences and Non-Credit Programs. “We’re filling a humanitarian need.”
The Unexploded Ordnance course, which will be offered four times a year, also addresses explosives found on construction and land development sites. At the end of the training, participants will leave as Level 1 technicians. It’s a field that will provide opportunities for career advancement.
The training and subsequent career will be particularly attractive to civilians who enjoy working outdoors and in construction as well as ex-military members, said Dan Smith, president of Relyant, a US Department of Defense contractor.
“There’s a huge need for jobs for veterans coming back from overseas,” he said. “We’re trying to fill that gap. The program would allow them to find placements.”
The UXO program has been approved for veterans’ training by the US Department of Veteran’s Affairs. Ex-military members may use part of their GI Bill to pay for the $8,000 tuition and their housing while in Knoxville.
UT professors and Relyant instructors will teach the program, which includes training in hazardous waste handling. Classroom instruction will be at the UT Conference Center. Relyant will provide field training at a range in Greenback, Tennessee.
Becoming a UXO technician represents opportunities not only for an occupation but for adventure and travel, said Chad Reep of Knoxville, who has signed up for the course.
Through the Marines, Reep was deployed to Iraq in 2008, Afghanistan in 2010 and the Mediterranean in 2011 before he was honorably discharged last September.
“I would love to go back to that area,” he said.
The UXO profession could provide the same camaraderie the military did, Reep added.
“In this line of work, I’m sure I’ll meet some good people along the way,” he said.
For Leroy Beasley of Kathleen, Georgia, participating in the UXO training program would be “an extension of military service.”
He will drive five hours to Knoxville for the course.
“It’s something different and challenging,” he said.
Beasley retired after twenty years of service in the Army as an artillery sections chief.
The program “is a great opportunity for service members getting out of the military,” he said.
To learn more about the Unexploded Ordnance Training, visit www.utk.edu/go/oj.
To learn more about Relyant, visit www.gorelyant.com.
C O N T A C T :
Lola Alapo (865-974-3993, firstname.lastname@example.org)