The University Record, December 21, 1998

College of Engineering will train Chinese students in nuclear reactor safety, engineering

From the College of Engineering

The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has designated the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences as its choice for nuclear reactor engineering and safety education in the United States.

The University recently signed a memorandum of understanding with the CNNC to teach reactor safety and engineering principles to students from the People's Republic of China (PRC). The program at Michigan will expose Chinese students to the commercial nuclear power safety culture developed in the United States that is critical to the successful implementation of safe nuclear energy use in China.

The U-M program is an important step in the PRC's commitment to use commercial nuclear power to satisfy the country's growing electricity needs. With only three nuclear engineering departments among its universities, China lacks the educational infrastructure necessary to support a large-scale program to design and safely operate commercial nuclear plants.

According to the arrangement, the U-M will offer, from its existing courses, a comprehensive curriculum tailored to providing a firm foundation in nuclear reactor engineering and safety in addition to practical training for the students, who will earn master's degrees from the U-M. The CNNC will identify potential candidates for the program, and the U-M will make admission decisions based on existing admissions criteria. The students will study at the Ann Arbor campus.

Many experts believe that helping meet China's growing electricity needs safely and efficiently is a key element in Asian and global stability. Because of growing air pollution problems caused by burning coal to produce electricity, China is increasing the importance of commercial nuclear power in its energy mix. The PRC has three operating nuclear plants; the first built by the PRC and two built by Framatome (France). Eight additional plants are either planned or under construction: two each from Canada, Russia, France and the PRC. Plans call for as many as 30-40 more nuclear plants by the year 2020.

"This educational program will lay the foundation for a safe and successful commercial nuclear program in China in the years to come," said Gary S. Was, chair of the Department of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences.

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