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Concluded CRP: Sustainable Education in Nuclear Science and Technology (L53003)

Success story
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As part of the CRP, some 3000 students and teachers participated in various training and platform development activities in nuclear science and technology. (Photo: IAEA)

Many countries face the challenge of ensuring an adequate and sustained pipeline of qualified nuclear professionals to meet the demands of their nuclear energy sector. A four-year IAEA Coordinated Research Project (CRP), recently concluded, supported national authorities in the adoption of innovative information and computer technology (ICT) practices and has enabled further collaboration in nuclear science and technology education in participating countries.

CRP Overall Objective

The CRP aimed to improve the sustainability and effectiveness of nuclear education and training programmes. 

Specific Research Objectives

Participants in the CRP jointly developed a systematic approach to various issues related to national education in nuclear science and technology, leading to the following research threads:

  • Understand the impact of adopting modern information and computer technologies in nuclear education;
  • Formulate main principles for cooperation and collaboration approaches and formats between industry, universities and government, and among countries and regions (e.g. networking and resource sharing mechanisms);
  • Collect best practices applied by academia to reach out to schools and society;
  • Understand and analyze demographics and gender in nuclear education;
  • Develop a set of benchmarking approaches for nuclear education;
  • Collect experience and methods of addressing challenges in other engineering disciplines and review their applicability to nuclear education;
  • Map nuclear competences in and for nuclear education.

Impact

Some 3000 students and teachers participated in various training and platform development activities; concrete initiatives taken within the framework of the CRP in targeting various educational institutions. Internet tools, use of augmented reality, and virtual experiments developed within the CRP were (and will continue to be further) deployed among high school and university students and teachers.

To demonstrate the feasibility of distance education in delivering courses to a mixed international audience, the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) developed and rolled out a distance education pilot course on pressurized heavy water reactors. A blend of teaching styles were adopted to deliver a three-day course to parallel groups in Canada and Romania. Feedback collected from the pilot course provided useful lessons for the roll-out of similar courses in the near future.

Surveys and analyses were also undertaken by participants in a few countries to look at the national demographic make-up of the country’s nuclear sector. Surveys encompassed a broad set of parameters such as population growth rate, age, regional development, and their implications on the current and future nuclear workforce.

The study was meant to bridge potential gaps, aligning academic offerings with industry needs and shaping strategies and recommendations to address emerging deficiencies through human resource development and knowledge management programmes. Implementation steps have been already initiated as a result of this work, including the adoption of knowledge management tools, the launch of outreach activities in educational institutions (to enhance interest in the nuclear field among teachers and high school students) and the engagement and collaboration of relevant stakeholders: government, academia and industry (the Ministry of Education committed to support nuclear-related educational programmes and to engage in the dissemination of relevant information).

Experts identified competencies expected from nuclear engineering education programmes and a competency map and draft reference curriculum were also developed based on the CRP’s learning outcomes.

Relevance

The research threads within this CRP addressed real issues in participating countries where the nuclear energy sector needs to secure an adequate pipeline of nuclear professionals with up-to-date skills and competencies. Several of the nuclear education programmes initiated within the CRP have been institutionalized and will continue and expand beyond the project.

Participating Countries

Research contracts were awarded to participants from Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Ghana, Indonesia, Morocco, Russia and Thailand. Research agreements were signed with institutions in Australia, Belgium, Canada and the United Kingdom.

For further information related to this CRP, please see the CRP page.

Resources

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  2. Women
  3. Press

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