Training doesn’t have to mean lectures.

By ClaireMarshall | editorial | February 21, 2013

Without a doubt my favourite parts of the nucleargraduates programme are the training zones and mid secondment meet ups when the whole cohort get together.  So far we have been to Cumbria, Birmingham, Edinburgh and London and we have only been on the scheme 4 months!  It’s not all been lectures either; we have also completed professional team presentations, taken part in ‘the bird cage’ task (I’ll leave it as a surprise), interrogated MPs and lobbyists in Westminster, swung from trees and had countless great meals in restaurants.

It all started in October when 36 graduates descended on the Lake District for our first two weeks of training, to start with we were split into four teams and completed loads of team building activities, including swinging from ropes out over a river, climbing trees and acting like blind sheep who were guided by a sheppard!  These were all to prepare us for working in our teams for the next two years, starting with the team challenge for the two weeks.  This was to come up with a solution to a problem that the UK nuclear industry has been debating since its inception; so nothing too hard then.  We had to present our proposal to a panel of experts who judged the best presentation based on commercial and technical content (obviously the best team won!).

During this two weeks we also had lectures for the first module of our post graduate certificate in nuclear technologies, went on a site visit of URENCO’s enrichment facility, and bizarrely, made model submarines and power plants our of paper and post it notes!

In December we had our annual conference in Edinburgh which was followed by our 1920s themed Christmas dinner, this was the first chance for all of cohort 5 and 6 had to meet each other. It was a good opportunity to hear to the kinds of secondments other people were doing and what they thought of them.  The dinner was a roaring success; costumes included ‘the wall street crash’, a time traveller from the future, 1920s beachwear as well as the expected mob of gangsters.

January saw us travel down to London for our first footprints workshop, this consisted of a extreme variety of activities, many of these designed to push us outside of our comfort zones (the way I am writing this blog) and the highlight of which for many of us was the opportunity to question politicians on topics as diverse as the low level waste repository in Cumbria, science and engineering education and House of Lords Reform.

We then travelled straight from this to Birmingham for the first module of the certificate of nuclear professionalism (CONP), this one was commercial awareness.  Despite the snow threatening to leave us stranded we completed two days of commercial tuition by lecturers from Aston University and NDA directors.  This included finance, risk, stakeholders and making a business case.

Now it’s February and I’m a little sad that we don’t have any other event like this until training zone 2 in May.  I will have plenty to keep me busy until then though. I have just moved to a new project in Rolls Royce civil nuclear, in the constantly frantic manufacturing department and the science club we started has really taken off, so we have to find educational ways to entertain 50 children once a week.

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