A teaching partnership with Imperial College London has given the first students in UNSW's nuclear engineering masters program access to experts including Britain's Chief Scientific Adviser to its Foreign Service, Robin Grimes.
Grimes, also a Professor of Materials Physics at Imperial College London, fellow College lecturer Dr Mark Wenman, and Dr Simon Walker are the first Imperial staff to visit UNSW under the partnership agreement.
"Imperial College is constantly developing and maturing partnerships with world-beating organisations," Grimes says.
"We're at the beginning of our journey with UNSW. We will carry out nuclear energy-related research together and as we become more familiar with each other's processes and longer term goals, I hope it will lead to a much closer relationship."
The March visits were a major coup for UNSW and students, says John Fletcher, Professor of the Energy Systems Research Group in UNSW's School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications.
"Having Professor Grimes, Dr Wenman and Dr Walker come out here and deliver some of the course material presented an exciting opportunity for us," Fletcher says.
The scope of the partnership has already expanded beyond teaching visits, providing an opportunity for UNSW to become a supporting partner of Imperial College's Centre for Doctoral Training in Nuclear Engineering.
This Centre will offer UNSW students possible PhD placements in London, access to world-leading research facilities and joint research supervision. UNSW will also offer courses in uranium mining fundamentals to the Centre.
"The Centre will give us access to a European network of universities with nuclear expertise," Fletcher says.
UNSW reinstated its graduate program in nuclear engineering this year, having previously offered courses between 1954 and 1986.
Interest in the new program surpassed expectations with 10 students to commence studies this year, and a further 40 inquiries from potential candidates from as far afield as China, South Korea, India, Bangladesh and Vietnam.
The students have a diverse range of engineering backgrounds, including electrical, civil, mechanical and renewable energy.
"If you're a mechanical engineer you might be more interested in a materials engineering project. If you're a civil engineer you might look at structural performance, and if you're an electrical engineer you might be more interested in how nuclear would fit within a power network context," Fletcher says.
"There are many different project opportunities for all engineering disciplines."
Grimes sees a range of job prospects for nuclear engineers, given the level of international input required when building a reactor.
"Components to build a reactor are sourced from a number of different high tech engineering companies specialising in anything from pumps to control systems," he says.
"Australia is a well known provider of world beating civil engineering but are also involved in other parts of the process."
Fletcher also ran a special topic introducing nuclear engineering to 32 final-year engineering students last year, which will be repeated this year.
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