Lab Canada

Nuclear network names exec director

Hamilton, ON – Engineering physics professor at McMaster, Dr Bill Garland, has been named executive director of the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE).

Established in 2002, UNENE brought together industry (key funding partners are Ontario Power Generation, Atomic Energy of Canada, and Bruce Power)) and academia (McMaster University, University of Waterloo, University of Western Ontario, Queen’s University, University of Toronto, University of Ontario Institute of Technology, Ecole Polytechnique, University of New Brunswick, Royal Military College, and most recently, University of Guelph) to create a powerhouse of expertise, and set in place a resource for industry succession planning.

“Like most businesses these days worldwide, the nuclear industry is dealing with a significant number of professionals who are on the brink of retirement,” says Dr Garland. “We needed to link universities and industry to ensure that the expertise is passed along.”

UNENE has turned out to be more than a networking outlet for nuclear specialists, however. An accredited Master’s of Engineering (MEng) degree program in nuclear engineering has been developed and it enables current employees and fresh recruits to the industry to upgrade their nuclear knowledge through part-time studies. One of Garland’s responsibilities in his new position will be to ensure the education component continues to flourish. It’s a program that attracts a small but intensively dedicated group of nuclear specialists – about 45 so far – who spend weekends immersed in all things nuclear.

Another offshoot of UNENE is its research capability. Through funding from its industry partners and matching funds from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, UNENE is a $15-million concern. The bulk of the funds go to support six new industrial research chairs, five associate chairs and the associated graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. A portion of the money is set aside for additional research via a competition that is open to all university researchers. The range of research includes nuclear materials, reactor safety, nano-engineering of alloys, risk-based life cycle management, control and instrumentation, residual stress measurements in reactor piping, heavy water equilibria at high temperatures, and mathematical modelling of fuel coolant flows. New topics and collaborations are being added continually.