University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (known as UNENE) was created in 2002 as a partnership between Industry and universities with the objectives of establishing a nuclear R&D program in universities, train and develop Highly Qualified Personnel (HQP) to address the demographic gap and to create a sustainable source of expertise for independent industry and public consultation. Ten years into its creation, UNENE is now a well established and fully functional framework with programs mainly focussing on education and research serving the industry at large. The educational component is in the form of an M. Eng program mainly catering for working professionals by being offered on weekends and using distance learning tools. It is intended to enhance competencies and build knowledge for students. The R&D programs are led by Industrial Research chairs (IRCs) and other prominent researchers in areas of importance to the industry.


The main purpose of UNENE is to assure a sustainable supply of qualified nuclear engineers and scientists to meet the current and future needs of the Canadian nuclear industry through university education, university-based training and by encouraging young people to choose nuclear careers. The primary means of doing this are to establish new nuclear professorships in six Ontario universities and to enhance funding for nuclear research in selected universities in order to retain and sustain nuclear capability in the universities, now in danger of being lost. The Network organizes and delivers through its universities educational programs appropriate to students planning to enter the industry and to those already employed.

UNENE Member Organizations

Some industry members, (namely Ontario Power Generation (OPG), Bruce Power (BP) and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL)) have initiated the UNENE research by sponsoring Industrial Research Chairs (IRCs) in many of the UNENE Universities. These chairs are held by world-class scientists with considerable industrial experience and they are well respected in the industry, both nationally and internationally. These IRCs became anchors for establishing research programs and competent research teams within their respective universities. Industry funding of the IRC programs has also served to leverage additional funds from federal and provincial research grants, thus widening the scope and size of these programs – which have allocated $50M (Canadian) to date.

Federal Government
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca
NRCan www.nrcan.gc.ca
Amec Foster Wheeler www.amecfw.com
Bruce Power www.brucepower.com
Canadian Nuclear Laboratories www.cnl.ca
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission nuclearsafety.gc.ca 
Candu Energy Inc. (Formerly AECL Engineering www.candu.com
CANDU Owners Group www.candu.org
Nuclear Waste Management Organization www.nwmo.ca
Ontario Power Generation www.opg.com
Ecole Polytechnique www.polymtl.ca
McMaster University www.mcmaster.ca
Queen’s University www.queensu.ca
Royal Military College www.rmc.ca
University of Guelph www.uofguelph.ca
University of New Brunswick www.unb.ca
University of Ontario Institute of Technology www.uoit.ca
University of Regina www.uregina.ca
University of Saskatchewan www.usask.ca
University of Toronto www.utoronto.ca
University of Waterloo www.uwaterloo.ca
University of Windsor www.uwindsor.ca
Western University www.uwo.ca


In 2001, Ontario Power Generation (OPG) spearheaded an initiative to enlarge the available supply of highly qualified graduates for employment in nuclear industry by establishing for it an alliance with a selected number of prominent Canadian universities and assisting these universities in attracting the best academically qualified and motivated students in their nuclear engineering programs. To be successful, it was recognized that it is necessary to promote active collaboration among industry and universities, invest in rebuilding nuclear engineering faculty and programs in universities, and reinvigorate university-based research in nuclear discipline. Accordingly, on May 9th 2001, then OPG President and CEO, Ron Osborne announced the formation of University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) and committed $5M from OPG for its initial phase of operation. The UNENE vision was rapidly accepted by Bruce Power (BP) which committed $1.5M, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) ) which also committed $1.5M, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and the CANDU Owners Group (COG). The industry enthusiasm was welcomed and embraced by McMaster, Queen’s, Toronto, Waterloo, Western and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. Since École Polytechnique and the University of New Brunswick (UNB) also have active nuclear engineering programs, they too agreed to contribute to the objectives of UNENE. Therefore, UNENE was formally established as a not-for-profit corporation by the Government of Canada with Letters Patent issued July 22, 2002.

Subsequently, Royal Military College, the University of Guelph, the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Windsor have joined as university members, and AMEC Foster Wheeler NSS have joined as industrial members. UNENE as been and continues to be a great success. It is in its second 5 years of funding.


UNENE’s strategy to create a supply of nuclear specialists is to offer opportunities to qualified engineers and scientists to complete graduate degrees and acquire the needed knowledge through courses, projects and research. In this regard two approaches have been taken to address the supply of graduates:

  1. Master of Engineering (M.Eng.) Program in Nuclear Engineering: This Program provides a part-time educational opportunity to current or prospective nuclear industry employees. Courses for this program are offered in a flexible, concentrated, format to make the best use of distance learning and attending courses in person on weekends and working days that suit working professionals. A student registers at a participating university but takes courses from experts from partner universities and the nuclear industry, to earn an M.Eng. degree – each course can also be taken individually for academic credit. The program is accredited by the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies (OCGS). Anticipating full accreditation, the program was launched in 2003 and accreditation was received in 2005.
  2. Research-based Master and Doctoral Programs: The bulk of UNENE funding is directed towards Industrial Research Chairs (IRC) and Associate Chairs at McMaster, Queen’s, Toronto, Waterloo, Western, UOIT and RMC. These Chairs each supervise students for their Master’s and Doctoral degrees. These students receive research assistantships from the funds provided by UNENE and matched by NSERC. In addition, UNENE is also selectively supporting research programs of existing faculty members who are expected to acquire matching Collaborative Research and Development (CRD) grants from NSERC and support additional students in the conduct of research.

In this way, the supply of highly qualified graduates in nuclear engineering and technology is enhanced directly, university-based research in nuclear engineering and technology is reinvigorated and a group of university-based nuclear experts for industry and public consultations are made available.

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