President’s Report

Jerry Hopwood, UNENE President

The times they are a-changing and so is UNENE

UNENE is evolving to support Canada’s nuclear innovation agenda and its members’ efforts to do the same. Read Jerry’s report from the Summer 2021 newsletter.

AUG. 10, 2021

As I write this, we are experiencing a summer of extreme heat and damaging forest fires, a reality reflected in the recent IPCC report – a reminder of the seriousness of climate change for us all. This further highlights the need for major change in our energy and related sectors. Our nuclear community is responding and building opportunities to contribute to climate solutions, to enhance global health and energy security. And UNENE is changing too. 

Scanning our environment, we see developments in university research and teaching (not least in adapting to COVID-19); developments in Canadian society, as we face the seriousness of past and present injustices to marginalized groups; and the increasing prominence of collaboration to enable both ambition and effectiveness.

Each week, my inbox receives a wealth of inputs seeking UNENE involvement in initiatives in education, research and outreach. This is real encouragement that UNENE’s role is recognized and valued. It provides the incentive to fulfil that role as fully as possible. 

All of this is reflected in the work we have done to put together UNENE’s business plan, as outlined starting on Page 3 of the summer newsletter. This is a roadmap, overviewing priorities and principles for UNENE’s activities, and describing where we want to go and how to get there. The last two years of changes have shown that UNENE has a unique part to play.

UNENE’s role in strengthening the nuclear university sector

UNENE has continued to evolve its role over the past several years. Most recently, the Board approved our business plan, which seeks to help better unite the strengths of the university network, especially where there is a role in meeting Canada’s sustainability goals and innovation agenda. A few of UNENE’s roles include serving: 

  • As a voice for the nuclear university sector – telling the sector’s collective story and demonstrating the contribution it provides;
  • As a bridge/connector between nuclear academia and industry to fund and strengthen research relevant to industry’s progress in further developing excellence in nuclear technology;
  • As a secretariat for the university community to develop frameworks and foundations for best practices in nuclear research, education and contributions to furthering collective knowledge management; and
  • In education delivery and coordination through collective programming by the network members such as in the MEng and other programs, primarily geared to employees of industry members.   

Our business plan identifies key activities to build this role. Among the initiatives, over the next year, we will conduct a needs assessment and mapping of the network’s nuclear education programming. The feedback from our members and the nuclear community will help identify priorities, and in parallel, we will study the best delivery methods to reach our wide-spaced nuclear community.

Recognizing the importance of equity, diversity and inclusion as fundamental ingredients, UNENE is looking at our role in supporting this key focus area. UNENE can serve as a secretariat to help its members identify best practices, set guidance available across the network, respond to social and government expectations, and address members’ workforce planning needs.

UNENE will enhance research collaboration between universities and industry, and will provide a common voice for the university network with like-minded collaborative organizations in Canada and globally.

This newsletter itself is an example of change and growth at UNENE, and contains a view of the tremendous range of activities within our nuclear community, and UNENE’s presence. We are excited about the work ahead to put our business plan into practice, and to be part of the growing role for this sector. 

– Jerry