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Intercontinental Nuclear Institute Concludes Month-Long Training Course for Young Nuclear Professionals

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INI trainees attend lectures at the US-Czech Civil Nuclear Cooperation Centre. (Photo: INI)

Beginning as a pilot initiative in 2015 and subsequently held annually, the Intercontinental Nuclear Institute (INI) has delivered specialized, hands-on training to more than 100 young nuclear engineers and scientists since its launch, supporting the long-term sustainability of the nuclear industry worldwide. Held this year from 3 to 28 June, the fifth session of INI was attended by 26 students, young professionals and mid-career specialists who received training and mentoring in the Czech Republic and the United States of America.

The annual, four-week programme of the Intercontinental Nuclear Institute provides practical and fundamental information pertaining to the safe, secure and sustainable generation of nuclear power. Supported through the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) technical cooperation programme[1], with technical oversight provided by its Department of Nuclear Energy, the Institute’s courses are held in and hosted by the US-Czech Civil Nuclear Cooperation Centre (CNCC) in Prague and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (UML). These courses provide a forum that allows participants to share and disseminate expertise on energy and nuclear technology affairs.

While INI participants are typically either graduate students or young professionals directly working in the nuclear field, but with limited experience, the Institute nevertheless brings together a diverse student body from across the globe, including engineers, energy and electricity planners, lawyers, researchers, reactor operators and public communicators.

Participants enrolled in the fifth iteration of the Intercontinental Nuclear Institute gather following the opening ceremony in the Czech Republic. (Photo: INI)

The new training course structure in 2019 includes technical lectures, tours and workshops led by academic and industry experts. “This year, we celebrated the fifth anniversary of the Intercontinental Nuclear Institute. This unique summer programme, bringing together practitioners from all around the world together to assist young specialists in broadening their knowledge, meeting professionals from the nuclear and non-nuclear fields and providing a robust opportunity for networking,” explained Anna Fortova, Coordinator for the INI at the Czech Technical University in Prague.

During the training event, INI participants visited the Temelin Nuclear Power Plant and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) research reactor, among other sites. Selected attendees also engaged in a variety of developmental activities—including panels, university visits and laboratory exercises—to enable knowledge transfer from peers and leaders in the nuclear energy field.

The training course supports Member States in the development of both long-term national nuclear energy strategies and more sustainable nuclear energy infrastructure, based on the highest levels of safety and security while simultaneously meeting long-term energy needs. The Institute is supported through the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses Initiative (PUI), launched in 2010. INI seeks to further the objectives of the PUI by engaging the next generation of the nuclear workforce through technical activities and through the promotion of a global dialogue.

Celebrating its fifth anniversary, INI has had a positive and demonstrable effect on former participants—in a follow-up survey, conducted in 2018 with the attendees from the first and second years of the programme, 90% of respondents answered that the Institute had a significant impact on the progress of their professional career and 70% answered that INI has affected their decision to pursue a career in the nuclear power sector.

After his participation in INI 2019, Erik Holubek from Slovakia explained, “Not only did I refresh my knowledge, but I also gained new skills and information and met people from different parts of the world in what I consider as an invaluable and beneficial experience.”

“I am eager to share what I’ve learnt with my co-workers and also make relevant contributions to nuclear safety culture awareness within my organization,” added Yvonne Sefakor Dzovor from Ghana, who also attended INI 2019.

[1] INT2018, ‘Supporting Knowledgeable Decision-making and Building Capacities to Start and Implement Nuclear Power Programmes’

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