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FuseNet discusses education needs at SOFT 2012

FuseNet is present the whole week at the 27th Symposium on Fusion Technology at the Palais des Congrès in Liège, Belgium.

In one of the satellite meetings the chairman of FuseNet, prof. Niek Lopes Cardozo, addressed the needs for fusion education now that we phase a transition in the design and construction of the next-generation reactors. In a round table discussion with industry representatives, there was common agreement that the transition of work from physics laboratories to industry and from non-nuclear to nuclear, requires a change in education.

Fusenet Education Session at the SOFT conference 2012

Different views were exchanged on how the activities and needs of industry could be better matched to the research and education in universities. It was pointed out that large projects such as ITER and Wendelstein 7-X require more engineering skills from academia. The multidisciplenary aspects of the work were pointed out by industry, and suggestions were made on how to incorporate these more in education. Also the hurdles that prevent fusion students to find an internship in industry were brought to the table.

It was also felt that industry could benefit from consulting of fusion engineers or gaining more knowledge in the fusion domain.

All members at the table concluded by recognizing that the challenges of the European fusion programme imply that the European support for fusion education needs to be reinforced and more closely integrated with industry. To achieve its goals fusion, we will need the very best of scientists and engineers to be ready, when ITER comes in operation.

Along the same line of thought, a presentation in the afternoon by Christian Schönfelder (pictured on the left) of the Fusion Industry Innovation Forum (FIIF) stated that it is important that industry takes a more active role in defining and developing fusion technologies. The specific skills that need to be developed in Fusion were outlined, and a comparison was made with the Fission industry.

Schönfelder further discussed how FuseNet could aid in promoting and assisting the developments of skills in industry (e.g. through direct training, internships, and by delivering skilled engineers as future employees), to position European industry at the forefront of fusion technology.