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Fusion Education Central in Panel Discussion MIIFED 2013

Over 400 participants of the Monaco ITER International Fusion Days (MIIFED 2013) received a brochure with information about the FuseNet Association in their conference bag. At the three-day conference, representatives of the ITER IO and the Domestic Agencies, international fusion labs and industry gathered to discuss the progress of the ITER project, including the status of construction and manufacturing.

But the event also discussed wider, global socio-economic issues related to fusion energy, and FuseNet - in the person of chairman Niek Lopes Cardozo - moderated a panel discussion on fusion education.

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco studies the ITER tokamak mockup, standing next to Yukiya Amano, Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (left) and listening to explanation from ITER Director-General Motojima (right). [Source: ITER

All areas covered in a high-level panel discussion on fusion education

The discussion session on fusion education benefitted from a very strong panel, with participants from 4 ITER parties: Dr. Delong Luo (China), Dr. Dhiraj Bora (India), Dr. Pavel Aleynikov (Russia), and Dr. Jean Jacquinot, Prof. Dr. ir. Guido van Oost and Kurt Ebbinghaus (all from Europe). If we compare education to 'production', than representatives from the producer side (universities) as well as the client (industry, ITER) were represented, and in the person of Pavel Aleynikov, Monaco-fellow at ITER, someone who recently finished his education and is now starting on a career. In all, the session benefitted equally from a relatively small but highly engaged and expert audience which actively participated in the discussion. 

The round table discussion at MIIFED 2013, moderated by Niek Lopes Cardozo. (click to enlarge)
'Communication' was a word that kept coming up

The question how do we attract enough students, and the best students gave rise to the reaction: 'don't wait for the students to find us, we must reach out'. Communication in essential in this respect, as was also demonstrated from the great student interest from the government organized structural effort in China to enhance the number of students in fusion. But both the level of interest and the quality of the students are influenced by the career perspective, and here good communication is fundamental.

As was pointed out by Kurt Ebbinghaus, people with a broad technical and scientific education, experience in international, interdisciplinary projects and a large multicultural team are very welcome in industry, whether inside or out of the fusion programme. However, Pavel Aleynikov, the Monaco Postdoc on the panel, was not overly positive about the career perspective.

Fusion is attractive but a well defined fusion programme is essential

Here, as in all other sessions at MIIFED, was emphasized that the development of fusion must follow a well defined roadmap and stick to it. Then industry can engage, young people can engage, a well-founded human resource management plan can be made and the education programme can be designed to fill the need.

The science and technology of Fusion are intrinsically very attractive, lots of young people are interested in it, and the societal aspect is a great attractor too. But a clear sense of where we are headed is fundamental to attracting the best students and giving them the right education.

Read more on the MIIFED 2013 conference here: