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Leading internationally: ORNL hosts IAEA Nuclear Energy Management School

ORNL’s Andrew Worrall, organizer of the 2019 USA-International Atomic Energy Agency Nuclear Energy Management School, introduces Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, before she talks to the students.

For two weeks in November, Oak Ridge National Laboratory hosted the USA-International Atomic Energy Agency Nuclear Energy Management School—a unique educational experience for future nuclear energy leaders from North and South America.

The school’s mission is to enhance participants’ managerial and technical competencies, which are essential for maintaining national nuclear energy programs. This includes raising students’ awareness about recent developments in nuclear energy and broadening their understanding of the challenges associated with the peaceful use of nuclear energy.

Andrew Worrall, the fuel cycle technology leader for ORNL’s Reactor and Nuclear Systems Division and the Department of Energy’s laboratory lead coordinator for nuclear energy research programs between the United States and the United Kingdom, served as the school organizer. He said it was a perfect opportunity for ORNL to influence the future of nuclear energy on a global scale.

“These students are going to be leaders very soon, so helping them see theory and lecture topics be realized through facility tours is invaluable,” Worrall said. “They were able to see practical examples of the content of the course material having a direct bearing on the direction of nuclear energy.”

Rita Baranwal, assistant secretary for the Office of Nuclear Energy, visited the group, delivering a message on nuclear energy and answering students’ questions. The school included additional talks from leading scientists and engineers from ORNL, IAEA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and industry. Outside the classroom, the group visited ORNL’s High Flux Isotope Reactor, the Graphite Reactor, various other ORNL facilities and the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.

“It was a great opportunity for us to run the school at ORNL,” said Oszvald Glockler, senior nuclear knowledge management specialist for the IAEA. “We were able to work with DOE to deliver a program that included support from US organizations and ORNL facilities. This offered historical perspective on nuclear energy and technology along with the latest developments to produce a truly world class event for the students.”

The 25 invited students came from institutions across the United States, Canada, Brazil and Argentina. One of the attendees, Dasha Scherbakova—a fueling engineer from the Pickering Nuclear Generating Station in Canada—said it was an eye-opening two weeks.

“This has been a great experience to network with a variety of individuals from different countries and gain new perspectives on nuclear opportunities around the world,” Scherbakova said. “ORNL provided school participants a valuable overview of the various projects the lab is leading.”

Worrall’s efforts to organize the school have made him confident about future leadership in the United States and internationally.

“I was extremely impressed by the engagement of the students, lecturers and those providing various facility tours,” Worrall said. “Everyone was so enthused about taking what they learned and applying it to their home organizations. And we are especially grateful for the invaluable contributions from US industry in making the school relevant to the students.”

ORNL, IAEA and DOE sponsored the USA-IAEA Nuclear Energy Management School.