Nuclear Education & Transfer Of Know-How
An education and knowledge transfer panel session was organized in response to general observance of an aging workforce, lack of student interest in nuclear programs (evidenced by declining enrollment in university programs worldwide), and declining job opportunities for nuclear professionals as a result of budget cuts and a lack of new project development in nuclear fields.
Participants in this session discussed the decline of University engineering enrollment and suggested that one responsibility of the Young Generation is to build up the structures for knowledge transfer for the next generation entering a nuclear profession. Panelists were asked what caused them to take up nuclear studies, followed by a question on why they believed others did not go into studies of nuclear science. Overall, we learned that most entered the subject area due to an excitement for the subject and the challenge that the field offers. On the contrary, people may choose not to enter nuclear technologies due to the lack of job prospects, a fear of radiation, lack of positive role models, no early experiences with nuclear, or poor public perception. A fundamental cultural difference was noted with respect to job selection. For many Europeans, vicinity to family was an important component to job selection, whereas this is a minor issue for Americans. One panelist was quite honest in his answer, indicate.
It was the general feeling of the Y-notes discussion group that know-how transfer is best accomplished by mentoring and on-the-job training, but that this cannot be effective without an active, inquisitive mind. Each generation should take on the responsibility of mentoring the next. It is never too early to begin communicating a positive image of the nuclear sciences to children. Young children need to see and to touch to learn about science. In the younger age groups, we must consider hands-on methods of communicating. At all stages of development, it is important for children to have positive role models who will help to guide them to scientific and technical paths.
To assist in providing solutions to the problems related to education and knowledge transfer in the nuclear field, we hope to foster knowledge transfer between generations as well as across international boundaries. One mechanism may be to establish an International Nuclear University to organize a world network of nuclear professionals, encouraging international collaboration.
During this session, new ways of communicating information were presented. In one instance, two authors presented a paper together as a discussion that was intended to continue with the audience. It is recommended by this review group that paper presenters seek new and innovative methods of communication. New, different presentation methods are memorable to members of the audience, providing a fresher view of the subject matter. Another method may be to question the questioner to assure that the appropriate message was communicated. This can be a useful technique to improve transfer of information to the public, ensuring that the information that is conveyed is correctly understood.