Friday, November 16, 2012

Nuclear Power Education and Training:

Fit for KINGS


I recently had the opportunity to participate in a brand new education and training venture for the nuclear field.  Since I don't think the school is widely known yet, I thought it might be useful to describe it.

Korea's KEPCO International Nuclear Graduate School, or KINGS, opened its doors just about a year ago.  Situated on a brand-new campus in between the Kori and Shin-Kori units near Busan, the school now consists of two new buildings, a dormitory and a classroom/administration building, about 50 students, and about 15 faculty members. 

At present, most of the faculty and students are Korean, but they have a number of students from such countries that are building or contemplating nuclear reactors, including the United Arab Emirates, Kenya, Malaysia, Vietnam.  South Africa, which already has operating reactors, is also represented in the student body.

The permanent faculty presently includes one American, Jay Z. James, who (among other positions) previously ran his own consulting firm for over 20 years and taught in Berkeley's Nuclear Engineering Department.  KINGS has also had several visiting faculty, including myself, teach for short terms.

All classes are conducted in English.  The students are all young professionals who have completed their academic training and have worked for a few years.  Thus, they bring with them a basic engineering education and some practical experience in the working world. 

The focus of the school is intended to be hands-on and practical, so the 2-year curriculum includes a mix of nuclear engineering courses and courses on such topics as project management, operations and maintenance, and plant economics.  The intent is also to take advantage of being on the campus of an operating reactor facility.

As far as I know, what the school is seeking to do is unique.  While there are shorter courses focused on practical training, I don't know of any other program that offers such a combination of the practical and the academic in such an in-depth, extended program.

The program should be particularly valuable for the students who come from countries planning nuclear programs, as this may be their first exposure to actual facilities and to many of the non-academic aspects of running a nuclear power program.    

While the program is in its early phases and is not yet at its full anticipated size, the school anticipates expanding its staff and faculty over the next year or two.  Given what I observed in my short time there, it is well on its way to becoming a recognized element in the spectrum of education and training available to individuals in the nuclear profession.

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