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IAEA Holds First In-Person Nuclear Energy Management School Since Pandemic Outbreak


Students visiting the Tecnatom reactor simulator during an IAEA Nuclear Energy Management School held in Tarragona, Spain, in September 2021. (Credit: IAEA)

In a welcome return to in-person activities, the IAEA held its first face-to-face Nuclear Energy Management (NEM) School for young professionals since the outbreak of the global COVID-19 pandemic, with 17 young managers of the future from seven European countries joining the two-week event in Tarragona, Spain.

Co-organised in cooperation with the Spanish Nuclear Society and the Spanish Nuclear Young Generation Network, the NEM School enabled participants to come together for discussions on the future of nuclear power, while respecting COVID-19 protocols and safety measures. Students explored the vital role of nuclear power in mitigating climate change and achieving sustainable development, nuclear energy innovations on the horizon and the global transition to net zero energy systems, among other topics.

“During these hard times, transferring knowledge and knowhow to youngsters is of the utmost importance, but doing so with a good feeling of enthusiasm is fundamental,” said Luis Enrique Herranz, a professor at the University Polytechnic of Madrid and Head of Unit in the Nuclear Safety Research Division of Nuclear Fission at Spain’s Center for Energy, Environmental and Technological Research (CIEMAT).

The NEM School programme supports countries in training future managers to lead nuclear energy and nuclear applications programmes. It focuses on the managerial and technical competencies required to support national nuclear energy strategies and is particularly appropriate for young professionals in countries that plan to develop or are in the process of embarking on a nuclear power programme.

“I have been very impressed with the range and depth of both the lectures and the discussions,” said participant Jacob Home, Technical Advisor at the UK Nuclear Innovation & Research Office. “The topics covered have helped me with planning and management in my own role already.”

The NEM School’s programme is typically carried out in cooperation with a local university or nuclear organization and this year was no exception. Support provided by local lecturers was key to the success of the event, with recognised experts contributing on different topics and bringing a wealth of expertise and perspectives from different areas of the Spanish nuclear sector, including the Spanish Safety Council, operating nuclear power plants, private industry and academia (Polytechnique University of Madrid and Universidad de Navarra).

The event, which took part last month, drew almost 100 applicants from four continents. Amid ongoing restrictions on international travel, 17 participants out of the selected pool of candidates were able to attend, including 8 young female professionals.

“The NEM School, among Nuclear Knowledge Management services, has been gaining more recognition in strengthening and fostering leadership of young nuclear professionals,” Wei Huang, Director of the IAEA’s Division of Planning, Information and Knowledge Management, said in welcome remarks to the school. “I hope that all of you together, with other young professionals in the international community, can help transfer those clean energy transition scenarios and projections which are in favour of nuclear energy into reality in the future.”

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