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June 26, 2024

As nuclear gains momentum on the world stage – students are taking notice

Growing student interest and new learning opportunities mark exciting second year start to the CNL Undergraduate Nuclear Research Experience introducing McMaster undergraduate students to a career in nuclear.

As Canada continues planned efforts to support clean energy transition, building and training the required workforce to meet the challenge is an incredible undertaking – an all-hands-on deck approach that includes government, industry and academia. Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), Atomic Energy of Canada Limited and McMaster University have been steadily growing their partnership to ensure undergraduate students across a variety of disciplines can experience firsthand what a career in Canada’s clean energy sector would be like.

Now in its second year, the CNL Undergraduate Nuclear Research Experience Program provides a unique opportunity for McMaster University students (enrolled in Level II or above in the Faculties of Engineering and Science) to access to the expertise and capabilities within the Chalk River Laboratories, Canada’s national nuclear laboratories.  Through this program, the students can experience hands-on learning, gaining real-world research and technical experience in the nuclear field. Interest in the program has increased significantly with over 100 applications received for the 12 available spots in the eight-week program. And new this year, students will be actively working on research projects under the leadership of CNL’s experienced staff, during the two weeks they spend at the Chalk River campus.

“The next generation is critical to helping Canada achieve net zero carbon emissions and CNL is committed to advancing student learning, training and employment opportunities to create this talent pipeline,” says Gina Strati, Director, Academic Partnership Program, CNL.  “We’re thrilled at the interest students are showing in Canada’s nuclear industry and their desire to build their knowledge and skills at Canada’s national nuclear laboratory!”

Paired with both McMaster and CNL mentors for guidance, students undertake a research project with a focus on energy, safety and security, environment or health (the latter speaks to the important role that both McMaster and CNL also play in Canada’s medical isotope ecosystem). In addition to the two-week experience at Chalk River Laboratories, Canada’s largest single complex science and technology infrastructure, students will also spend time at McMaster’s world-class nuclear research facilities, including the 5MW McMaster Nuclear Reactor – Canada’s largest nuclear research reactor and a world-leading supplier of medical isotopes used to treat cancer.

“After hearing about the CNL Undergraduate Research Experience Program last year, I was excited to apply because I wanted to explore the field of nuclear while participating in hands-on work and getting research experience in radiochemistry,” says Maya Mahmood, an Integrated Science and Chemical Biology student, McMaster University.  “Nuclear science is an incredibly interdisciplinary field, and the breadth of projects that were offered inspired me to join the program.”

On May 13, students met with their mentors and leaders from both CNL and McMaster to celebrate the launch of the program.  This year’s cohort includes seven students from the Faculty of Engineering and five students from the Faculty of Science.

[Photo provided by McMaster]

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