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Eye witness report from the 2012 FuseNet PhD event, part 1

On Monday, the 22nd of October 2012 the inhabitants of Pont-à-Mousson witnessed a group of strange-looking young people with suitcases and poster tubes rushing through the town center. The 2nd PhD Event in Fusion Science and Engineering had opened its doors to the participants from all over the world pursuing a PhD study in fusion at a European University.

Each student came equipped with a poster that highlighted their research progress (mainly 2nd and 3rd year students) or their research roadmap (freshmen). Identifying the first years was made easy by their nervous appearance.

However, there was no concern to be nervous about, as for the beginning of the event the students could enjoy the lunch and gather in the conference room. After the welcoming words of Prof. Gérard Bonhomme, the students were given an overview of the European fusion networks, in particular about FuseNet by Dr. Roger Jaspers and Fusion-DC by Prof. Guido Van Oost.

The next talk given by Dr. Michel Chatelier raised the provocative question “Do we need fusion?”. Actually, this question was answered right away. The answer was “surely yes, but it will not solve all the energy problems”. A long list of the problems followed, together with the overview of the world’s energy situation and the possible scenarios of its development.

After the talk the students started to worry about the increasing energy needs of the planet. This concern was used to ignite the round table discussion. Students were split into groups and given a controversial statement about fusion to defend or to oppose. After the short preparation a passionate debate got started. Two groups had to present simultaneously; the procurator and the advocate of the statement were interacting with each other, their groups and the public. The committee members summarised each debate with their own opinions on the topic. Actually, such a brainstorming discussion was quite a success, even though the world’s energy problems still remained unsolved.

The last activity of the day was carried out by 2nd year PhD students; they gave short presentations aimed at attracting the others to view their posters the next day.

The discussion on the scientific and non-scientific topics had not stopped even after the dinner. All the languages including 'the language of music' have given a valuable input into the discussion. In the end, everybody came to the conclusion that we should work on making fusion energy a reality, at least in order to bring such remarkable people together!