The meeting portion of the IYNC commenced with an opening panel of distinguished speakers. This panel included the presidents of the European, American, Indian, Korean, and Slovak Nuclear Societies, together with the the Minister for Atomic Energy of the Russian Federation, Minister for Education and Science of the Slovak Republic, the Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Head of theSlovak Nuclear Regulatory Authority, and the President of FORATOM.
This panel presented a unique opportunity for an international view on the future of Nuclear Science and Technology, although agreement on all issues was not necessarily evident. Further discussion of these topics will follow in a Y-notes session that will summarize the issues that were discussed during this session.
YG Opening Session
Following the opening panel, participants learned of some of the international nuclear activities that are currently being conducted. M. Uematsu described an exciting movement to organize a Young Generation Network in Japan that is now in the developmental stages.
G. Legradi also provided information about the Hungarian Young Generation Network. This group organized a public event in which educational contests were conducted to inform members of the public about nuclear science and technology. This was followed by a lively public debate between the nuclear groups and a member of a green organization, moderated by a popular rock star. This debate was followed by a public opinion poll that indicated 50% acceptance of nuclear power! During this session, we also heard from representatives of the young generation in Germany, France, and Russia. Participants expressed interest in learning aobut young generation programs internationally, whose experiences may assist in the development of young generation programs in their home countries.
Nuclear Education And Transfer Of Know-How
During a session on Nuclear Education and Knowledge Transfer, the group discussed a major issue for the young generation: declining university engineering enrollments and the necessity to transfer knowledge from generation to generation. The nuclear industry is having to deal with a decline in students and education opportunities, as stated by Urs Meyer from the Nuclear Power Plant in Leibstadt, Switzerland. During this very lively session, it became clear that both the established industry and the young generation realize the value of having programs available to attract highly qualified young professionals. The young generation also accepted their responsibility to provide role models and mentors for the coming generation of children. Related to this is the problem of reserving existing information, as keynote speaker John Graham pointed out in his presentation. A lot of expert information is being destroyed or exists only in the heads of an aging population. It is therefore important to make the problem known by including it in technical conferences, and making sure that the young generation has access to older information and knows how to use it.
In two sessions on Nuclear Technology the presenters showed that they were clearly in tune with the state of the art nuclear science and technology. In the field of the power industry, a number of new designs and research and development projects were presented. Keynote speaker Andy Kadak was right on the mark when he stated the requirements for new nuclear technology saying that “the plants must be competitive, they must be demonstrably safe, they must be proliferation resistant and they must exist in the current political climate”. At least one of these requirements could be found in all other presentations in that session. Kadak gave an example of a project at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: a small modular high temperature helium cooled turbine peddle bed reactor producing 100Mwe.
At the end of the day, immediately after the sessions had finished, a small group of people for each session met to draw some conclusions on what had happened in the sessions that day. This group consisted of the chair of the session, some of the presenters, and a few representatives from the audience. In these “Y note sessions”, the group would recapture and discuss what was said during the meeting, and try to draw some lessons learned from it. For those who wanted to relax a bit instead, there was an opportunity to watch some student and young generation movies. These were movies about nuclear science and technology, made by school students from Bratislava.
A point was made later in that session, that it is important to involve politicians early on in the research and development stage of these projects. Katrien Van Tichelen, of SCK/CEN in Belgium, presented a project that followed this approach: the MYRRHA project, which focuses on the design, development and realization of a modular and flexible irradiation facility based on accelerator-driven systems.
After working hard all day (the Y note sessions went on till 9:00 PM), it was time to play hard. For that evening, the organizers had organized a party in a disco. All participants could meet in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Participants would either get to know each other a bit better over a glass of beer or wine in the bar, or, for those who were still up to it, dance the night away.