x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Developing next generation of energy leaders a key priority for UAE

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation employs more than 400 people. By 2020, that will need to grow to a team of about 2,000 employees, with 60 per cent of them Emiratis.

Nuclear technician major students at the polytechnic college at the Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.
Nuclear technician major students at the polytechnic college at the Khalifa University in Abu Dhabi.

Developing the next generation of nuclear energy leaders is a key priority for the UAE Government, industry and education leaders say.

The nation's universities are developing various programmes, from nuclear engineering and infrastructure development to nuclear management and security.

The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation, or Enec, employs more than 400 people. By 2020, that will need to grow to a team of about 2,000 employees, with 60 per cent of them Emiratis.

A survey conducted by Enec of Emirati nuclear energy students showed 83 per cent chose the subject because they wanted to be part of the energy industry of the future.

And 85 per cent said good career opportunities was the reason they chose to take up engineering.

Mohammed Al Hammadi, the chief executive of Enec, said it planned to continue its investments in developing local human resources to "operate the UAE nuclear programme and power the future growth and prosperity" of the country.

Mr Al Hammadi praised the collaboration between Enec and its educational partners in training young Emiratis in line with the highest standards of safety, security and the latest technologies.

The nuclear operator also launched its Energy Pioneers programme in May this year.

It aims to attract and train the country's most talented science students, engineering graduates and experienced professionals and give them a chance to become pioneers of the emerging nuclear energy sector.

In June this year, a group of Emirati engineers completed their foundation training to become the UAE's first certified nuclear reactor operators, attaining Senior Reactor Operator certification from Westinghouse Electric Company, in the US.

At school level, 36 Grade 11 students from the Institute of Applied Technology were sent to South Korea for a 12-day summer programme organised by Enec, the Korean Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation's education institute and Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco).

A scholarship programme offered by Enec presents opportunities in chemical, nuclear, mechanical and electrical engineering through a bachelor's degree.

This will prepare students for entry into the nuclear-energy industry as qualified engineers, fully trained and ready to address the nation's growing energy demands.

Dr Abdullatif Al Shamsi, the institute's managing director, stressed its keenness to provide advanced scientific and academic curriculums applied internationally, to develop young Emiratis and enable them to participate in the country's development.

Another scholarship is available for a higher diploma in advanced energy engineering technology, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Polytechnic.

This course combines theory with technical training, leading to a specialised diploma and job-qualification certificates in operating, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and control, chemical and radiation-protection specialisations.

The institute said it had received numerous requests from people interested in joining their higher diploma programme in nuclear energy.

Dr Ahmed Al Awar, associate director and chief academic officer at the institute, said it was developed in collaboration with Enec and Kepco to develop the necessary UAE human capital to run the nuclear programme.

Dr Al Awar called for Emirati students interested in working in nuclear energy to submit applications for admission this year.

A master's degree programme for engineering and physics graduates at the Khalifa University of Science, Technology and Research (Kustr) allows students to further their training with advanced studies in nuclear engineering.

Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, the executive vice president said they try to "make sure we provide the highest levels of education and training to our students in order to enhance their expertise and ability to support the nation's development".

Dr Al Hammadi said the launch of the UAE's nuclear energy programme was an "ideal opportunity for us to introduce more scientific methods programmes to our curriculum".

He said the university would do so by entering into partnerships with local and international academic institutions in the areas of research, education, and vocational training.

"All this is in order to support the development and operation of our peaceful nuclear programme," Dr Al Hammadi said.

Enec has developed its scholarship initiative together with Kustr, and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation, with teaching provided by leading academics and professionals in the industry.

Internationally, Enec has formed partnerships with some of the world's leading universities and institutions.

They include the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and US universities including Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Pennsylvania State University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.