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With IAEA Support, The Intercontinental Nuclear Institute Invites Applications to its 2016 Edition

29 February 2016
Today, the average nuclear scientist is well over 50 years old. As early as 2000, national regulators and international organizations identified the ageing population of specialists in the nuclear field as a major challenge to knowledge management and retention. As the generation of professionals who managed and operated nuclear power plants (NPPs) for the last half-century approaches retirement, the Intercontinental Nuclear Institute (INI) was organized to help support the long-term sustainability of the industry through capacity building, global dialogue and technology transfer. INI is working towards its goal of preparing the next generation of nuclear experts through a robust training programme which seeks to combine practical and hands-on training with classroom learning and lectures delivered by lead industry experts. Through both the Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI) and its technical cooperation (TC) programme, the IAEA is supporting INI’s capacity building work by providing visiting experts, organizing meetings and regional workshops.In June and July 2015, INI collaborated with the TC programme to launch a four-week joint programme which provided 22 young engineers and scientists from 13 recipient countries across the European region with hands-on experience at nuclear installations in the Czech Republic and the United States. Through the Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI), and with the support of the Czech Civil Nuclear Cooperation Centre (CNCC) and the University of Massachusetts (UMASS) Lowell, this joint programme included visits to the UMASS research reactor, the Seabrook Station NPP, and the Czech Research Centre Rez, in addition to other nuclear power plants. Many of the young scientists had never seen a nuclear reactor, let alone visited an operational power plant. As such, the tours and proactive training sessions proved essential to their future success. “It is always helpful when I can visit nuclear power plants and reactors of which I have studied only at university,” explained Anita Kirilova, 28, a newly recruited inspector at the Bulgarian Nuclear Regulatory Agency.
As part of the programme, the participating fellows attended presentations organized by the IAEA which clarified a broad array of subjects beneficial to their future careers in the nuclear industry, from the best practices of NPP design and operation to the most recent safety standards and security guidelines. Professor Sukesh Aghara (pictured, left) explained his experiences as an instructor: “Spending 4 weeks with young nuclear professionals from various countries was a very enriching experience for me as a mentor. Discussing nuclear topics of waste management, nuclear safeguards or safe with the fellows brought out the diversity of perspective on these topics.”
“INI was designed with a special focus on combining classroom learning with practical experience,” explained Professor Radek Skoda, the INI Director from the U.S.-Czech Civil Nuclear Cooperation Centre (CNCC) who helped develop the comprehensive curriculum delivered through the institute. The sustainability of the nuclear industry requires the transfer of expertise to the next generation of managers and engineers. Beyond simply complying with safety requirements, these young professionals need to receive ongoing training on building a safety culture, adopting novel management approaches, and implementing operational best practices. Motivated, informed and well-prepared young scientists are critical for the long-term viability of all national nuclear power programmes, and the IAEA will endeavour to continue its capacity building efforts in support of knowledge and capacity sustainability. Looking back on her experiences with INI, Ms Ieva Lukosiute, a participating Fellow, noted, “Participation in the fellowship was of a high value in terms of my personal professional development – it contributed significantly to growing my experience and knowledge in the field. The fellowship broadened my horizons and allowed an extremely valuable exchange of knowledge and opinions.” The 2016 Intercontinental Nuclear Institute will soon welcome 25 participants for a two-week training course which will provide experiential learning supported by experts in reactor physics, safety and security, radiation protection, economics and more

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