Institute to train nuclear workforce

A new institute will help usher in a generation of professionals to guide the UAE's civil nuclear energy programme.

ABU DHABI // A new institute will help usher in a generation of professionals to guide the UAE's civil nuclear energy programme. The International Atomic Energy Agency's International Conference on Human Resource Development, being held at Yas Island this week, heard that about 500 people will need to be hired to work on the nuclear programme by the time it begins in 2017.

However, the recruitment process would be a challenge due to a lack of university courses in the region tailored specifically toward the industry, speakers at the conference said. The likelihood of more people being trained in time for the inauguration of the programme appears stronger now, after the announcement of the formation of the Gulf Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Institute. The institute will be supported by the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (Kustar), and those behind the project hope it will become one of the region's leading educational forces. Students will have a mixture of classroom instruction and field experience in nuclear energy safety, security, safeguards and non-proliferation.

The university will partner organisations such as the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation and the UAE Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation. From the US, Sandia National Laboratories and the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute at Texas A&M University, will be partnering with the institute. "World-class performance in safety, security and safeguards, as well as non-proliferation are the foundation of a responsible and successful nuclear energy programme," said Dr Arif Sultan al Hammadi, the interim president of Kustar.

"We are pleased to be playing a key role in bringing expertise in those fields to the UAE, and eventually to the region." Dr Amir H Mohagheghi, the programme manager for the Middle East and South Asia for Sandia National Laboratories, said: "It shows the potential for US public and private entities to support both our mutual desire for good partnership on the highest nuclear safety and non-proliferation standards."

The partnering organisations will develop the new curriculum and advise on the facilities needed for the Abu Dhabi campus, as well as providing guest lecturers and working with the Kustar staff.