Nuclear Island opens to UK students

16 June 2011

UK science and engineering students will be able to experience building a scaled down nuclear power plant as part of a new training programme known as the Nuclear Island.


The programme was officially launched on 15 June, when a pilot week began with 25 engineering students from Imperial College London designing and constructing a scaled down nuclear power plant. They will be assessed in relation to real-life skills such as radiation protection, site licensing, budgetary control and project management. The pilot week is scheduled to end with a yet to be unveiled safety breach, which will test the students' ability to respond to a potential disaster scenario.


The Nuclear Island has been developed by a partnership of Imperial College London, Constructionarium, Cogent Sector Skills Council, the Engineering Construction Industry Training Board (ECITB) and Construction Skills. The partnership received funding to develop the project from the National Higher Education Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (HE STEM) Programme and the Royal Academy of Engineers.


The Nuclear Island will be a hands-on new build experience for students initially in engineering, but will be broadened out to other science, technology, engineering and mathematical areas as part of the pilot programme. According to Cogent, "For the first time, nuclear safety culture will be an essential part of construction engineering courses, embedding critical safety behaviours from day one."



Queen honours Llewellyn 


Jean Llewellyn, CEO of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, has been appointed by Queen Elizabeth II to the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to the energy industry.


In a statement, Cogent said: "Jean Llewellyn has become a highly recognisable figure across the sector for her enthusiastic leadership of the employer-led National Skills Academy for Nuclear. Since the Skills Academy's inception in 2007, Jean has been a key driving force in building and sustaining the organisation as an effective and viable force for ensuring the sector has the skills necessary for maintaining a safe world-class nuclear industry in the UK."


"I am absolutely thrilled to be honoured with an OBE," said Llewellyn, adding "It is the highlight of my professional career. It is a great recognition of the success and impact of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear."


The programme will be run from the established Constructionarium facility at Bircham Newton in Norfolk and builds on good working practice in the civil engineering sector where scaled down models of large buildings are already performed by students. So far, projects have included constructing scaled-down models of the London skyscraper known as the Gherkin and the London Olympics Velodrome.


Joanna Woolf, CEO of Cogent, commented: "The prospect of replacing the current fleet of nuclear power stations represents a multibillion pound private sector investment, but one which is dependent on a highly skilled workforce. Cogent's research shows that the industry will require a thousand new recruits every year to ensure that power generation meets projected demand to 2025 and beyond."


She added, "This new initiative aims to become an integral part of a number of UK undergraduate courses, attracting and exposing students from civil and nuclear engineering to the new build sector."


Jean Llewellyn, CEO of the National Skills Academy for Nuclear, said, "This is an exciting time of growth and development for the UK nuclear industry and it offers a range of exciting careers and development opportunities. It is really important that UK students aspiring to work in the sector are given the real life education, training and development opportunities required to support them access worthwhile careers and succeed in the sector."


"Safety is of paramount importance in every aspect of the nuclear industry from construction to operations and decommissioning," she added. "This innovative project gives students a real opportunity to fully understand the skills and knowledge to work safely in the nuclear industry."


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News