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A young professional’s view of the benefits of the WNU Summer Institute

Exclusive interview with WANO scholarship winner Ashot Sargsyan

Why did you apply for the WANO World Nuclear University (WNU) Summer Institute scholarship?
The WNU is recognised across the world for developing future leaders through networking opportunities and exchange of information from industry leaders. When I learned about the scholarship opportunity through WANO, I saw it as a great chance to benefit from attending this programme.
What is your role in your organisation?
Since 2010, I have been working at the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant as a leading engineer in the quality assurance department. I am involved in organising and conducting quality audits and self-assessments, in addition to developing quality procedures and organising training. I also coordinate WANO young generation activities within our plant. 30 young professionals are now in this group and they are actively involved in WANO missions and the continuous improvement of our station.

What was your experience of the WNU Summer Institute course, what did you learn?
The WNU had 270 hours of lectures, technical tours, interactive platforms, workshops, working groups, and simulations. I learnt from industry leaders, who were our mentors and lecturers from best practice organisations, such as regulators and high performing nuclear power stations.

For instance, Naohiro Masuda who was head of Fukushima Daini, the sister plant of the Fukushima Daiichi station, gave us a fascinating insight into the actions taken to achieve cooldown and prevent the kind of devastation that was unfolding at Daiichi.

Did you learn anything on the course that helped you enhance safety or reliability at your plant?
I attained knowledge on what other technical and management challenges my contemporaries face in ensuring safe and reliable operation. I have been involved with our plant’s lifetime extension project, which is the most important project for our plant. This lifetime extension will allow me to continually share the knowledge I gained from the WNU experience with my colleagues for the rest of my career. This will contribute to nuclear safety and the production of low cost power for my country. 

What opportunities did WNU provide to you to help you network and build a relationship with other young professionals?
Networking is one of the most important benefits of the WNU. I shared knowledge and experience and formed some great new relationships with young leaders of our industry. We stay in contact to share information and experience. For example, one of our mentors, the President and CEO of CASe Global Partners, Amir Shahkarami, offered to provide a leadership workshop for management of our Armenian nuclear power plant on a free basis.

This network helps me keep me informed about industry trends development opportunities and how my organisation can benefit from them. As a result, I have been able to keep my station updated on opportunities to attend the WNU. The experience has been essential to my professional development and the benefits are reflected in my daily work. It will also help for the future, as one of my colleagues will attend this year’s course!