Our organization has a long history in supporting science education – be that through the enrichment of the curriculum of schools, the employment of students through co-op programs and summer jobs, by enabling post-doctoral research, or through opening access to our unique facilities and expertise. The ZED-2 Reactor Safety and Instrumentation School, administered by the Applied Physics Branch, is a proud example of how CNL continues that tradition today.
Since its first occurrence in 2011, the school has provided an excellent opportunity for attendees to interact with pre-eminent researchers and practitioners in the field of nuclear science and technology via lectures and practical sessions. This year’s lecturers included professors from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, McMaster University, and the University of Saskatchewan, as well as two professionals from the CANDU industry, and one from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC). Lecturers also included subject experts from the following CNL branches: Applied Physics, Computational Physics, Fuel Development, and Neutron Scattering. A total of 16 students were selected from McMaster University, École Polytechnique de Montréal, Carleton University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Ontario Power Generation, CNSC, as well as three CNL junior professionals. The support of the CNS (Canadian Nuclear Society) and UNENE (University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering) provided scholarships for four university students.
This year’s lecture topics included reactor physics, nuclear data, code validation, descriptions of the ZED-2/NRU/CANDU/McMaster reactors, nuclear forensics, food irradiation, nuclear instrumentation, neutron scattering, and muon tomography. The practical sessions contained two components. In the reactor operation session, students had the unique opportunity to observe the ZED-2 reactor approaching, and ultimately achieving, criticality, as well as exposure to firsthand knowledge in radiation detection in relation to nuclear instrumentation and control. In the simulation sessions, students are exposed to state-of-the-art methodology and algorithms in neutronic simulations, a crucial component in design and safety analyses of nuclear reactors, using modern neutron transport codes such as Serpent, MCNP, and KENO. The students also had a site tour in the Supervised Area, including the NRU reactor, the Fuels and Materials (Hot) Cells facility, and the Thermalhydraulics Laboratories.
Since 2011, the ZED-2 school has accumulated over a hundred alumni, and feedback from the students has always been positive. Many students have been impressed not only by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to observe the operation of a nuclear reactor, but also by the spectrum of lecture topics provided by the school. Some alumni of the school have even joined AECL/CNL after their university graduation. The school also enables CNL to showcase our capabilities which the students take back to their organisations and into their future careers.