A team from Canada has won the inaugural International Nuclear Energy Olympiad, which has been held in Seoul, South Korea.
The contest was organized by the World Nuclear University (WNU) and hosted by the Korean Nuclear Energy Promotion Agency (Konepa). The theme of the competition was gaining public acceptance for the use of nuclear power.
|The award ceremony for the first International Nuclear Energy Olympiad (Image: Konepa)
According to the organizers, "Public acceptance is a key challenge for any nation introducing or expanding nuclear power plant facilities. The recent events in Fukushima have only served to heighten that challenge." They noted, "Despite Fukushima, the basic advantages of nuclear energy remain unchanged: a safe and reliable technology capable of supplying electricity on a large scale, at an affordable price, without increasing pollution and greenhouse gases."
Out of 70 applicants, ten teams representing Canada, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Mongolia, Romania, Russia, Turkey and the USA were selected to take part in the five-day event. Three of the teams came from countries that do not currently use nuclear power.
The ten finalist teams, each comprising two students aged between 19 and 26, were asked to conduct a public opinion survey, analyze the current promotion efforts by respective national associations, and suggest future directions. Each team was required to submit a paper, give a 15-minute presentation, then answer questions from an international judging panel. The presentations were closely geared to the cultural and social situations in each country.
The judging panel comprised two eminent academics from South Korea and a representative from each of the WNU and the World Nuclear Association (WNA).
The Canadian team - known as "Team Steeltown" and comprising Alex Wolf and James Harrington - took the top prize, closely followed in joint second place by South Korea and Turkey. These were followed in third place by the teams from Malaysia, Russia and India.
The Canadian students said that public campaigns should cater to specific groups and focus on fighting misinformation targeting the as-yet undecided majority of the population. Wolf said, "They get caught in the crossfire between those who support and those who oppose strongly. Their questions are left unanswered." Harrington added, "We try to focus on talking to those people who haven't made up their minds already."
Konepa was established in 1992 to promote a proper understanding of the peaceful use of nuclear energy among the South Korean public. It does this through providing information and educational material, as well as through media campaigns and exhibitions.
The WNU is a partnership supported by the WNA, the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the World Association of Nuclear Operators and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is committed to enhancing international education and leadership in the peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology. It does this through an annual six-week Summer Institute, short courses and through the School on Radiation Technologies.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News