Sharing the benefits of nuclear networking

By 2 March 2021 April 14th, 2021 Comment

Evan Bolle-Jones, a technical lead in the simulation and verification group at Nuclear AMRC, has been involved with the Nuclear Institute since the start of his career. We asked him to share his experiences, and how he’s now supporting other nuclear professionals.

My first experience of the Nuclear Institute (NI) and its Young Generation Network (YGN) was through my involvement in the nucleargraduates scheme. I graduated from Durham University with a first in Mechanical Engineering, and applied to a range of energy graduate schemes. I was lucky enough to be offered a job by the Nuclear AMRC, sponsored in their first cohort of the scheme. As part of the scheme, every nucleargraduate is enrolled as a member of the NI. This is where my journey began.

Over the course of the scheme, I was able to attend many of the NI’s events to grow my network and learn more about the industry. An early highlight was the YGN’s annual day seminar and dinner which gave interesting insights into the future of the nuclear industry. The networks generated at the NI and YGN events helped me and many of my fellow graduates to explore new secondment opportunities, and allowed me to go where no graduates on the scheme had been before. Following a conversation with an NI member about the work they do, I was able to be seconded to AECL in Canada.

When I got to this new secondment based in Deep River, a remote town two hours’ drive from the nearest city, I discovered the NI is a truly global network. Upon updating my role on LinkedIn, two connections I knew from NI events got in touch to say they had also recently made the move. We were able to meet up and they showed me around the town, then introduced me to some of Canada’s delicacies such as poutine and beaver tails (a Canadian pastry).

I completed my two years of being a nucleargraduate, and returned as a technical lead to the Nuclear AMRC, which is when I got involved with the UK SMR. This was exciting as it was one of the presentations I remembered from my first NI event about the future of nuclear, and now I was part of that! I led a work package on how to manufacture the heavy pressure vessels more efficiently, looking at new technologies and techniques that would challenge the expensive but reliable “this is the way we have always done it” status quo.

I took on the role of YGN company representative within a few months of joining the centre. This role meant I was able to build my network further by participating in the monthly meetings with other representatives in my region. I was able to reconnect with colleagues I had worked with previously while on secondment to their company. As part of this role, I shared the upcoming NI and YGN events and webinars with the whole of Nuclear AMRC, and encouraged others to talk about the benefits of joining the NI.

Through my role as the YGN company rep, I heard how the NI Midlands branch was re-starting after several years of inactivity. Seeing how much benefit the NI had to my career, I volunteered to step up and became secretary of the newly reformed branch. Together with the chair, Sukhbinder Singh, I have been leading the committee to rebuild the branch, recruiting volunteers and organising a strategy to go forward. I also discovered that one of my colleagues on the committee is part of the consortium working with me on the UK SMR, showing how connections made through the NI help build my working relationships at Nuclear AMRC.

The first major event for the Midlands branch is due to happen in April. Although there are still many pieces to bring together, we are confident it will be a success. The committee are planning many initiatives and events in local communities, universities and schools over the coming year. The events will support the NI in its goals which include promoting the nuclear industry to members and non-members, support equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives, and support member development by providing insight into all aspects of the industry. For the latest information, visit the Nuclear Institute Midlands page at the NI website.