The EFDA Roadmap identifies the need for training programmes in order to build up a future fusion work force. We interview co-authors of this section of the roadmap, Niek Lopes Cardozo, Chairman of the European Fusion Education Network (FuseNet) and Christian Schönfelder, who works at the AREVA Training Center and is member of the Fusion Industry and Innovation Forum (FIIF).

How is fusion training and education organised now?

Niek Lopes Cardozo

Niek Lopes Cardozo (Picture: private)

Niek: EFDA runs programs for goal-oriented training and early career researchers. FuseNet is the European network of laboratories, universities and industries that are involved in fusion training and education. It covers the whole range from bachelor to master and early career. FIIF comprises industrial representatives and advises the Commission and EFDA on industrial involvement and also on training. The three – EFDA, FuseNet and FIIF work closely together. Christian – FIIF member – is on the FuseNet board.

What additional training needs do you see?

Christian Schönfelder

Christian Schönfelder (Picture: Private)

Christian: We laid that out in the Education and Training annex of the EFDA Roadmap. With the transition to ITER and then DEMO, fusion will go from a science-driven, lab-based exercise to an industry-driven and technology-driven program. Moreover, it will move into a nuclear environment. This means that engineers as well as technicians will have to be aware of nuclear safety, licensing and regulations. Generic nuclear technology training is available from the fission field and we have to enhance that with fusion-specific content.

Niek: Industry will be much more involved in fusion and will need people who, besides being experts in their field, also know about fusion. In fusion, we already have engineers and scientists with specialist fusion knowledge, but now we will work more closely with industrial and nuclear engineers and we need people who know how to do that. We will need to organise that, too. In education, and human resource management, you need to plan ahead because it takes about ten years from when the students arrive at the university until they are the young professionals that realise our dreams – their dreams.

What kind of training needs does industry have?

Christian: We are currently building up a better knowledge of those needs. As Niek said, our people will have to know about fusion systems. Companies that are applying for ITER contracts already have that situation. To define more specific needs, we have to refine this picture and to consider the technological development ahead of us.

Although the Roadmap implementation plans are currently being discussed are there any ideas already?

Niek: Yes, we are in the process of discussing this, so let me not run too much ahead of developments. Basically we follow the lines set out in the Roadmap, which distinguishes six action lines. First, coordination of education, with joint academic criteria and support to joint educational events, mobility of students, joint development of materials, etc. Then, importantly, support to PhD programmes in the fusion institutions or universities, lined up with Roadmap priorities. Next, training of (mostly) engineers that enter the fusion field, in some form of follow-up of the present goal-oriented training programme. Fourth, follow-up of the early career excellence programme, the EFDA fellowships. Furthermore, we envisage in-company training of engineers who work in an industrial environment and are involved in fusion-related tasks. And finally, as already mentioned, dedicated training of fusion experts on licensing, regulation, (nuclear) safety, balance of plant etc. is required for the transition to a nuclear technology.

Christian, you have been working as a senior advisor for fission. Can fusion learn from fission?

Christian: Yes, I see similarities between large fission projects like the current building of new, third generation fission plants and ITER and DEMO. We are training engineers and customer personnel for these new plants and there are things which could be brought into the fusion education and training programme. The ITER Organisation expressed some specific training needs there, not only for fusion related issues but also related to organisation and management of such large scale and technologically very demanding projects.