College students help digitize decades Hanford records - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

College students help digitize decades Hanford records

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RICHLAND, WA- Most college students get a summer job for their off time between semesters. One group of about 51 college students check into the Federal Building from 7 in the morning until about 5:30 at night and for that time they're the Hanford Scanning Task Force. 

Gail Splett is the Hanford Records Officer and tells us, "so this summer we were trying to make room in our records holding area we thought the best way to do that was to actually scan those personnel records of which we have about 250 thousand on site so they're going to get through 75,000 of them this summer". The students go through boxes of files each containing anywhere between twenty to two hundred files, depending on how many documents are in each. So far, they've digitized 73,000 files. 

Splett says, "we had a terminal claim and we couldn't find anything we came downstairs to this project and we did find a box of 1948 badging records". By digitizing records, a process that takes normally 31 days now takes four hours. They were able to find the woman's records, "there was nothing but that record supported her claim, it really brought it home to the students this project is about people and it impacts their life". 

It brought it home for students like Michael Kozlowski, a junior at University of Washington, "you have to consider that, instead of a piece of paper it's a person's file you are holding that could be having problems that really could affect them in the future". He's an aspiring industrial engineer and this job has helped that career path, "in a way it's taught me to be more detail oriented, making sure you get the quality checks right". 

The Hanford Scanning Task force will wrap up in September, just as students head back to class and will hopefully be back next May to continue sorting through the remaining 150,000 files.