After successful stints in Italy, Japan and the United Arab Emirates, the IAEA's School for Nuclear Energy Management is now underway in Texas, USA. Hosted by the US government and the Nuclear Power Institute affiliated with Texas A&M University, the School will run for another two weeks, until 5 April 2013. Some 24 participants are from countries as diverse as Argentina, Brazil, China, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, Uruguay, as well as the USA.
The School is part of continuing efforts by the IAEA to address the management challenges in the nuclear industry. It provides a unique international educational experience for young professionals from developing countries and is aimed at building future leadership to manage and support nuclear energy programmes. All participants are carefully selected professionals from ages 28 to 45 with managerial potential in the nuclear industry, academia, government agencies and public sector entities in their countries.
"My main message to you, as future leaders of the nuclear industry, is that everyone involved in nuclear power must have a total commitment to safety," IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told participants in his opening statement.
"Additionally, governments, operators and regulators must be as open and transparent as is compatible with maintaining safety and security," Mr. Amano said. "If you are honest in acknowledging problems as they arise, you will have more credibility when you explain that nuclear power actually has an excellent safety record."
The school will involve the sharing and transfer of knowledge from internationally recognized experts in a wide range of activities critical to a sustainable nuclear energy programme. Lectures, presentations and group work from the IAEA, Texas A&M, American Nuclear Society, the US Department of Energy, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, as well as experts from nuclear facilities and other organizations will ensure that each subject area of the school curriculum is covered by the most competent specialists in the world. Special features of this intensive three-week training include a trip to Atlanta, Georgia, to meet representatives of the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) and the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and a visit to the nuclear power plant construction site of Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant Units 3 and 4 in Waynesboro, Georgia.
In his opening statement on 18 March, IAEA Deputy Director General for Nuclear Energy, Alexander Bychkov, told participants: "Nuclear is a very high-tech field and is not without potential danger. I strongly believe that the nuclear manager of the 21st century must be three things: First, a good specialist in one of the nuclear areas such as fuel cycle, reactor technology, reactor physics; second, he or she must have broad knowledge of all nuclear branches; and third, a basic understanding of economics, social science and psychology is required."
"You all are specialists in one of these nuclear areas. So the task of this school is to give you broad knowledge and basic understanding of all these nuclear fields," Mr. Bychkov added.
The School of Nuclear Energy Management in Texas A&M, USA, is the first school to be held in North America; three previous ones were held at The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP) in Italy, and one each in the United Arab Emirates and Japan. The US School will be held at two locations, at the A&M University in Texas for the first two weeks and in Georgia for the final week. It also includes technical visits to nuclear plants and facilities in the US.
The programme of study, delivered by IAEA specialists and other international lecturers, covers the most important topics related to the nuclear energy sector.
They include topics such as nuclear power, nuclear fuel cycle and waste management, lessons learned from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident, energy planning, economics and finance, national nuclear infrastructure development from planning to decommissioning, reactor technologies and selections, nuclear security, emergency preparedness and response, nuclear law, international conventions and relevant mechanisms, nuclear safety, non-proliferation, human resources and knowledge management, stakeholder involvement and public communication.