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Young Nuclear Professionals Receive Training and Mentoring at Intercontinental Nuclear Institute


The Intercontinental Nuclear Institute was established with IAEA support and has been delivered regularly since 2015. (Photo: INI)

Following more than a month of hands-on training, technical site visits and theoretic lectures spread across two continents, IAEA and international experts presided over the graduation of 21 young professionals from 15 countries, whose expertise in nuclear power management and related areas has now been certified by the Intercontinental Nuclear Industry (INI).

Today, sustainability in the nuclear industry is most threatened by the ageing population of specialists and the capacity gaps their retirements expose. Completing their studies with INI on 28 June, the graduates are expected to help fill those gaps by adding new competencies in emerging technologies and procedures to the nuclear sectors of their respective home countries.

“In my home country, Estonia, we are working towards the deployment of our first NPP. It was important to hear IAEA experts speak to the ideas and challenges we study regularly — whether it be the co-generation of heat and industrial steam, energy economics or financing — as it helped to confirm we are on the right track,” said Anu Koppel, a Supply Chain Engineer at Fermi Energia, the company preparing to deploy the first small modular reactor in Estonia.

The annual, four-week programme of INI brings together a diverse student body of graduates or young professionals in the nuclear field from across the globe, including engineers, energy and electricity planners, lawyers, researchers, reactor operators and public communicators. It provides practical and fundamental information pertaining to the safe, secure and sustainable generation of nuclear power.

Supported through the IAEA technical cooperation programme[1] and the United States of America, the Institute’s courses have traditionally been hosted by the Czech Technical University (CTU) through NuclearHub Prague and the University of Massachusetts (UML) in Lowell. However, training courses have also been delivered in virtual or hybrid formats since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

INI’s four-week curriculum provides both theoretic lectures and practical guidance related to nuclear power production, to give students the best possible foundation for their continuing nuclear careers. (Photo: INI) 

Beginning as a pilot initiative in 2015 and subsequently held annually, the Intercontinental Nuclear Institute (INI) has already delivered specialized, hands-on training to more than 150 young nuclear engineers and scientists since its launch, supporting the long-term sustainability of the nuclear industry worldwide.

This year’s edition of the onsite Institute was for the first time preceded by a series of virtual lessons and team work on topics, such as the fundamentals of nuclear engineering and the nuclear fuel cycle, the energy economics of SMRs and  the differing characteristics of Generation II, III and IV nuclear reactors. These preliminary courses were designed to ensure that all participants were equipped with the foundational knowledge necessary to extract the greatest benefit from the course’s hands-on exercises.

“This unique summer programme lasts four weeks on two continents and brings together practitioners from all around the world to assist young specialists in broadening their knowledge, meeting professionals from the nuclear and non-nuclear fields and providing a robust opportunity for networking,” said Radek Skoda, one of the two INI Co-Directors and a professor at the Czech Technical University in Prague.

“I found that networking was perhaps the most relevant part of my experience at INI,” said Koppel. “Talking with, learning from and sharing ideas among the multidisciplinary participants — including reactor physicists, engineers, regulators, climatologists, medical physicists and lawyers — really provided a unique and valuable experience, something you can come across every day.”

“Throughout the INI programme, the fellows, mentors and speakers spend time together exchanging ideas and discussing global nuclear topics over an extended span of time. As a result, deep relationships are formed beyond traditional, regional professional networks,” said Sukesh Aghara, Co-Director of INI and Associate Dean for Research at Francis College of Engineering at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. “Across their future careers, INI fellows will be able to tap into those relationships and networks, to exchange experiences, share perspectives and seek guidance.”

[1] RER2017, ‘Assessing the Role of Low Carbon Energy Technologies for Climate Change Mitigation’

Last update: 25 Jul 2022

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