New MPhil in Nuclear Energy

Some of the biggest companies and organisations in the nuclear industry are lending their support to a new course at Cambridge which will prepare the engineers and scientists of tomorrow for incidents such as those recently witnessed in Japan.

Despite the recent, unprecedented events at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, global nuclear investment appears likely to continue after a period of careful consideration of the lessons that need to be learned. In the UK, the Government has commissioned a review.

These events show how the design of nuclear facilities must encompass very infrequent and extreme conditions. Such issues have, for over 20 years, been at the centre of improvements in the design of new reactors. The Fukushima accident also demonstrates the key importance of vigilant and knowledgeable staff to plan for and if necessary manage major incidents.

A new MPhil in Nuclear Energy, which is being launched by the University of Cambridge, will, among other topics, focus on ensuring that the reactor designs are extremely robust and that staff working in the nuclear industry have the best possible preparation for the challenges of their careers.

Some of the biggest companies and organisations in the nuclear industry are now giving their support to the course. The course will receive funding, course guidance and practical support from organisations including EDF Energy, Atkins and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority.

Interest in the nuclear sector is expanding rapidly and is expected to become a multi-billion pound global business within the next 20 years. The Cambridge course, which begins in October 2011, will seek to develop engineering and management professionals by combining nuclear science and technology topics with business management and policy teaching.

Students will receive a thorough grounding in the engineering, scientific and safety aspects of nuclear power, and an appreciation of the wider policy contexts of electricity generation in the 21st century. Such skills are essential for the safe development of nuclear power.

The course will be led by the University’s Department of Engineering, and will be run in conjunction with the Judge Business School, and the Departments of Physics, Materials Science & Metallurgy and Earth Sciences.

Other companies supporting the programme include AMEC plc, AREVA, Serco, Aubert & Duval and Frazer-Nash Consultancy. In addition, practical assistance and specialist lectures will be offered by Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, The Welding Institute, Rolls-Royce Nuclear and the National Nuclear Laboratory.

“This level of support shows that major companies and organisations in the nuclear industry recognise the importance of drawing young engineers and scientists into the field,” Course Director Tony Roulstone said.

“Talking to industry about what they will require for their long term success in the rapidly developing global nuclear industry, they want top engineers and scientists educated fully in the essentials of current and future nuclear technology and with an understanding of investment and business.”

“The contribution of all members of the Industry Club to the success of the MPhil in Nuclear Energy will be pivotal.”

Andy Goddard of EDF Energy, said: “I am looking forward to helping Cambridge University develop this new MPhil in Nuclear Energy. With EDF Energy’s plans to build four large new nuclear power plants in the UK, it is important to develop trained engineers to support the nuclear industry. As an alumnus of the University, I am excited about developing strong links between industry and Cambridge University.”

Chris Ball, Director of Nuclear for Atkins plc, said: “The nuclear industry needs the brightest engineering and scientific minds and it also needs first-class management and leadership skills in order to deliver the necessary changes needed in the global energy market. Cambridge University has established a course that meets all these educational needs and Atkins welcomes the opportunity to work alongside the University in ensuring its future success.”

Adrian Simper, Strategy Director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, said: “This course reflects the exciting challenge ahead for all involved with the resurgent nuclear sector and will produce the top-flight scientists of the future, with all-round technical, business and political skills. The Industry Club provides an excellent vehicle for like-minded nuclear businesses to influence the expertise of our future talent pool, to share good practice and drive forward a world-class nuclear industry.”

More information about the Nuclear Energy Centre and the MPhil in Nuclear Energy can be found at Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre.