EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Energy- GREEN (Growing skills for Reliable Economic Energy from Nuclear)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Mechanical Aerospace and Civil Eng

Abstract

This is currently one of the most exciting and dynamic periods for UK nuclear science & engineering since the 1950s. Inter alia, both new reactor build (essential to meet climate change targets) and the decommissioning of the UK's legacy nuclear sites (a 120 year, £121 bn programme) are driving forward, BEIS are investing heavily in the new national nuclear innovation programme and the sector deal for the industry has just been published. The already acute need for skilled nuclear scientists and engineers is therefore increasing and will continue to do so into the long term. To address these needs we propose a CDT in Nuclear Energy (GREEN), a partnership between 5 of the UK's leading nuclear universities and 12 industry partners, addressing EPSRC priority area 19: Nuclear Fission & Fusion for Energy. Evolving from the very successful Next Generation Nuclear (NGN) CDT, GREEN will deliver comprehensive doctoral training across the whole fission fuel cycle as well as in allied areas of fusion. Inspired by changes in external drivers and feedback from alumni, employers and funders, GREEN will offer both academically- and industrially- based research pathways, linked to enhanced employability training. We will further widen our already strong industry engagement by inclusion of new external partners, and align closely with other national and international activities, including other proposed CDTs. Experience from NGN suggests we will be able to leverage EPSRC support to give a typical cohort size of 15-20 students. Remarkably, using the leverage of 40 studentships from EPSRC, GREEN has already secured a further 47 studentships from Industry and Academia, ensuring a minimum number of 87 students in the GREEN CDT.

Planned Impact

In GREEN we envisage there are potentially Impacts in several domains: the nuclear Sector; the wider Clean Growth Agenda; Government Policy & Strategy; and the Wider Public.

The two major outputs from Green will be Human Capital and Knowledge:

Human Capital: The GREEN CDT will deliver a pipeline of approximately 90 highly skilled entrants to the nuclear sector, with a broad understanding of wider sector challenges (formed through the training element of the programme) and deep subject matter expertise (developed through their research project). As evidenced by our letters of support, our CDT graduates are in high demand by the sector. Indeed, our technical and skills development programme has been co-created with key sector employers, to ensure that it delivers graduates who will meet their future requirements, with the creativity, ambition, and relational skills to think critically & independently and grow as subject matter experts. Our graduates are therefore a primary conduit to delivering impact via outcomes of research projects (generally co-created and co-produced with end users); as intelligent and effective agents of change, through employment in the sector; and strong professional networks.

Knowledge: The research outcomes from GREEN will be disseminated by students as open access peer reviewed publications in appropriate quality titles (with a target of 2 per student, 180 in total) and at respected conferences. Data & codes will be managed & archived for open access in accordance with institutional policies, consistent with UKRI guidelines. We will collaborate with our counterpart CDTs in fission and fusion to deliver a national student conference as a focus for dissemination of research, professional networking, and development of wider peer networks.

There are three major areas where GREEN will provide impact: the nuclear sector; clean growth; Policy and Strategy and Outreach.

the nuclear sector: One of our most significant impacts will be to create the next generation of nuclear research leaders. We will achieve this by carefully matching student experience with user needs.

clean growth - The proposed GREEN CDT, as a provider of highly skilled entrants to the profession, is therefore a critical enabler in supporting delivery of both the Clean Growth agenda, Nuclear Industry Strategy, and Nuclear Sector Deal, as evidenced by the employment rate of our graduates (85% into the sector industry) and the attached letters of support.

Policy and Strategy: The GREEN leadership and supervisory team provide input and expert advice across all UK Governments, and also to the key actors in the nuclear industry (see Track Records, Sections 3.3 & 5.1, CfS). Thus, we are well positioned to inculcate an understanding of the rapidly changing nuclear strategy and policy landscape which will shape their future careers.

Outreach to the wider public: Building on our track record of high quality, and acclaimed activities, delivered in NGN, GREEN will deliver an active programme of public engagement which we will coordinate with activities of other nuclear CDTs. Our training programme provides skills based training in public and media communication, enabling our students to act as effective and authoritative communicators and ambassadors. Examples of such activities delivered during NGN include: The Big Bang Fair, Birmingham 2014 - 2017; British Science Week, 2013 - 2017; ScienceX, Manchester; 2016 - 2018; and The Infinity Festival, Cumbria, 2017.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/S022295/1 01/04/2019 30/09/2027
2270917 Studentship EP/S022295/1 23/09/2019 30/09/2023 Kristina Kara
2271883 Studentship EP/S022295/1 23/09/2019 30/09/2023 Melissa Weihrauch
2271936 Studentship EP/S022295/1 23/09/2019 30/09/2023 Christopher Fernandez
2271983 Studentship EP/S022295/1 23/09/2019 30/09/2023 Tu Nguyen