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International endorsement for NWU's nuclear technology management

The NWU's researchers and academics in nuclear engineering have shown that the university's expertise and academic offerings in the field are in line with the best international standards. This is the case with the NWU's newly internationally endorsed master's programme in nuclear engineering.

Specialising in nuclear technology management, the programme was officially accredited by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 15 May. This also means that the NWU has received membership of the International Nuclear Management Academy (INMA).

Being a milestone for the Faculty of Engineering, the programme is recognised for the next four years as an INMA master's programme.

Researcher Prof Frikkie van Niekerk says the NWU was one of the first universities to apply for accreditation. The process started in 2017 with a successful audit by an INMA assessment team that year and concluded with a recent audit in January this year.

To ensure that the programme continues to adhere to the highest standards, the NWU is expected to submit an annual status report to the INMA annual meeting. The university will also share its experience of implementing the INMA-endorsed master's programme with other INMA members in order to continue developing and sharing its high-quality nuclear management education material.

The faculty has been a trailblazer in nuclear engineering. In 2005, the NWU became the first university in Africa to present a master's and PhD in nuclear engineering, and is currently the only South African university offering a PhD in nuclear engineering.

Managing nuclear technology efficiently

Nuclear engineering seeks to find solutions to the world's energy challenges. In the quest to find sustainable and cleaner electricity, nuclear energy is an alternative to fossil fuels that contribute to large-scale pollution.

Globally and locally, nuclear projects need to meet the right standards to ensure safety - whether in the development, construction or installation stages. This is where effective nuclear technology management comes into play.

Prof Frikkie van Niekerk says although many managers in the sector have technical backgrounds and are experts in the field, they may not all have management experience.

"The ideal is to recruit candidates with expert nuclear or radiation knowledge. The programme provides nuclear-specific education not only to managers, but also stakeholders, regulators, government, construction and technical staff."

He says the programme will help participants to develop an understanding of nuclear power technology, nuclear project management, safety, liability, licensing, financing and human resources.

"It enhances informed decision-making and effective management processes that could improve the safety, performance and economics of the nuclear industry as a whole."

Students who specialise in technology management gain a broad base of expertise, which prepares them for a range of engineering careers in the private and academic science sectors. It is an ideal programme for students in the BEng, BSc (Physics and Hons Physics) and BTech fields.

Date: 24 June 2020

Contact person: Louis Jacobs

Contact details: [email protected] / 082 901 6435