The growing interest in nuclear energy among Middle Eastern states calls for a sustainable, institutional, and regional mechanism for responsible nuclear energy infrastructure development.
Within this infrastructure development a critical human resource need defines the context for establishing educational and professional development capabilities on nuclear energy safety, safeguards, and security topics in the region. As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a regional leader in progressing toward a commercial nuclear power capability, this need for professional development and education is acute.
Recognizing this need, the Khalifa University of Science Technology and Research (Khalifa University) in Abu Dhabi, UAE - under the aegis of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the United States of America and the Government of the United Arab Emirates Concerning Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy of April 21, 2008 - began working with the United States Government (USG) Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA), the USG’s Department of State (DOS), and several key UAE partners to establish a center aimed at such nuclear power program human resource development.
This regional center has become known as the Gulf Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Institute (GNEII – pronounced “genie”) – and is designed to be a strategic partnership with a long-term vision of developing a responsible and informed nuclear nonproliferation, energy safety, safeguards, and security culture in individuals who will be making decisions within Middle Eastern nuclear energy programs.
The key UAE partners, participants and supporters of GNEII include:
||Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC)
|Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR)
||Critical National Infrastructure Authority (CNIA)
Under the guidance and support of the US DOE/NNSA and DOS, the key USG implementing partners include Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) and the Nuclear Security Science and Policy Institute (NSSPI) of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station, a member of The Texas A&M University System.
As the implementing partners, Khalifa University, SNL, and NSSPI – with support from key UAE and USG stakeholders – have developed the curriculum, established the facilities, provided the instructors, and plan to prepare Khalifa University staff and GNEII program alumni to become the permanent GNEII faculty.
This strategic partnership with Khalifa University acting as the primary implementer, has allowed for the leveraging of expertise to produce a successful regional and education-based institute capable of indigenizing global norms and standards in nuclear energy infrastructure development, safety, safeguards, and security.
GNEII’s primary objective is to immerse future nuclear program decision makers in safety, safeguards, security, and nonproliferation concepts and to familiarize them with how these concepts apply in a regional and international context.
From its inception, GNEII has been based on three key design features:
|GNEII is designed to be a regional institute, is hosted and located in the Gulf region and sustained by demand-driven interest from regional professionals interested in nuclear energy
||GNEII is designed to be an educational institute that moves beyond narrowly focused topical training courses to provide a more broadly–based, comprehensive forum through which regional nuclear professionals are prepared to assess a variety of situations , to lead, and to have long-term impacts within their nuclear energy programs
||GNEII is designed to be a strategic institute, sustained through regional financial and operational ownership, and representing a long-term investment for the development of responsible, indigenous nuclear energy programs throughout the region
Taken together, these three key design features make GNEII a novel institute uniquely positioned to institutionalize nuclear energy safety, safeguards, and security culture in future Middle East regional nuclear energy program decision-makers.
“To develop a responsible nuclear energy culture and institutionalize key safety, security and nonproliferation norms in the future decision-makers of Gulf-region nuclear energy programs through professional development and training.”
“To provide the Gulf, and surrounding region, with a continual source of indigenous nuclear energy professionals with whom the global community can effectively partner and collaborate to achieve broader nuclear energy security and safety priorities.”
- Establish GNEII as a regional educational, training, and research hub for a nuclear safety, safeguards, and security culture
- Maintain regional relevancy among participating Middle East states, through regular participation by a broad range of Gulf fellows and membership on the GNEII International Partners’ Council by regional state representatives
- Establish a sustainable educational institute at Khalifa University by transitioning full operational responsibility of GNEII and a majority of educational duties to regional instructors
GNEII is a small piece of a much larger, multi-faceted, multi-national and loosely coordinated effort to develop human infrastructure needs for nascent nuclear energy programs throughout the world.
Nevertheless, GNEII does offer significant local, regional, and global benefits:
- Locally, in addition to individual reward for the fellows, GNEII furthers the UAE’s interest in supporting the development of an intellectual and academic hub in the Gulf area
- Regionally, the institute provides the various national energy programs with an enhanced understanding of all aspects of nuclear energy, thus improving these nations’ energy-related decision-making processes
- Globally, GNEII offers the international community a model for an educational institute that addresses the policy/technology attributes of nuclear energy safety, safeguards, and security
Finally, GNEII also promotes both UAE and U.S. stakeholders’ interests in developing an internationally shared nuclear energy security, safeguards and safety culture (integrated “3S” culture), increasing collaboration between the nuclear energy communities, and implementing current global standards to ensure peaceful nuclear energy expansion.
Address: P.O. Box 127788, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Telephone: +9712-401 9198
3S Nuclear Energy Course
GNEII’s Nuclear Energy Safeguards, Security, and Safety (3S) Fundamentals Course
GNEII’s Nuclear Energy Safeguards, Security, and Safety Fundamentals Course (3S Fundamentals Course) offers a thorough and comprehensive curriculum designed to build a sufficient knowledge base within GNEII Fellows to make them conversant in the topics of nuclear safety, safeguards, and security. Designed to accommodate a professional schedule, the curriculum is structured to meet the needs of GNEII’s target audience: professionals with a Bachelors degree (technical or non-technical) who are scheduled to work in their country’s nuclear power program.
The 3S Fundamentals Course consists of classroom lecture material, hands-on demonstrations, simulations and a Capstone (applied research) project. The lecture materials were developed by SNL and NSSPI subject matter experts. The curriculum covers numerous topics that cumulatively build on each other to provide the fellows with an in-depth understanding of key topics related to nuclear energy programs. In addition, the curriculum design allows subject matter experts one or two-week periods to teach their specific topic of expertise on-site, thus leveraging the significant nuclear energy expertise of SNL and NSSPI.
The GNEII Fundamentals Course has a modular format, offering a total of 16 weeks of instruction in various topics related to nuclear energy infrastructure, safety, safeguards, security and nonproliferation
The following illustrates the GNEII Fundamentals Course topics:
Module #1: Nuclear Energy Technical Foundations
|Week #1 - Critical & Systems Thinking, The Scientific Method
||Week #2 - Technical Foundations I
|Week #3 - Technical Foundations II
||Week #4 - The Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Module #2: Nuclear Energy Nonproliferation & Safeguards
|Week#5 -Nuclear Technology Applications
||Week#6 - Nuclear Materials Control, History & Policy
|Week#7 - Nuclear Safeguards: Technical Design & Objectives
||Week#8 - Nuclear Safeguards: Operations Objectives
Module #3: Nuclear Energy Security & Safety
|Week#9 - Nuclear Security: Technical Design & Objectives
||Week#10 - Nuclear Security: Operations Objectives
|Week#11 - Nuclear Safety: Technical Design & Objectives
||Week#12 - Nuclear Safety: Operations Objectives
Module #4: Capstone
|Week#13 - Capstone Introduction
||Week#14 - Capstone Research
|Week#15 - Capstone Research
||Week#16 - Capstone Presentation
A modular format increases the flexibility of the 3S Fundamentals Course, gives fellows some “incubation” time between each module to maximize knowledge retention, and allows fellows to complete the course within a calendar year. Fellows who complete the 3S Fundamentals Course will have gained a significant amount of knowledge that will enhance their professional understanding and decision-making abilities within their home nuclear energy programs.
Additional Information on each 3S Module:
Module 1: Nuclear Energy Technical Foundations will provide GNEII fellows a strong, comprehensive technical foundation upon which the remainder of the program builds. This module will give fellows the tool set to systematically and critically analyze any issue – especially those involved with nuclear energy programs – and will also provide a clear, easily understood link between basic nuclear physics, the basic elements of the nuclear fuel cycle and nuclear power plant operations. Weekly lecture topics include:
- Critical & Systems Thinking and the Scientific Method
- Technical Foundations I: Basic Nuclear Physics Concepts
- Technical Foundations II: Basic Nuclear Power Plant Features
- The Nuclear Fuel Cycle
Module 2: Nuclear Energy Nonproliferation & Safeguards will provide GNEII fellows an overarching understanding of various technical peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the international nonproliferation regime, and how the two interact. Students will learn about the history of nuclear energy technology, the development of associated political documents, and current efforts to safeguard nuclear materials the world over. Weekly lecture topics include:
- Nuclear Technology Applications
- Nuclear Materials Controls, History & Policy
- Nuclear Safeguards: Technical Design & Objectives
- Nuclear Safeguards: Operations Objectives
Module 3: Nuclear Energy Security & Safety will provide GNEII fellows an opportunity to learn both the concepts, underlying philosophies, technologies and international best practices in nuclear energy security and safety. This module combines lectures over important security and safety related topics with real-world case studies and hypothetical simulations. Weekly lecture topics include:
- Nuclear Security: Technical Design & Objectives
- Nuclear Security: Operations Objectives
- Nuclear Safety: Technical Design & Objectives
- Nuclear Safety: Operations Objectives
Module 4: Nuclear Energy Capstone Project will provide GNEII fellows the opportunity to apply the knowledge gained in Modules 1-3 to a real-world, regional nuclear energy issue. Students are expected to use the skills and tools taught during this module to generate an analytical paper (and associated presentation) of publishable quality in a nuclear organization-related journal or conference (e.g. International Atomic Energy Agency, Institute of Nuclear Materials Management Annual Meeting, or other as suggested by GNEII Faculty Coordinator). Weekly lecture topics include:
- Introduction & Topics Brainstorming
- Research Skills & Outlining
- Research & Analysis Skills and Tools
- Research Write-Up & Presentation Skills
Admission information for the GNEII Fundamentals Course includes:
While GNEII has been established to be an accessible means of enhancing the knowledge-base and technical capacity of the local population, there are some basic pre-requisites.
- Be entry level to mid-career government or government-affiliated corporate officials from GCC countries (to be expanded to the rest of the region as the institute matures)
- Possess at a least a bachelor’s degree and be in compliance with Khalifa University’s entrance requirements
- Meet Khalifa University’s minimum English proficiency requirement (A score of 79 or better on Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) Internet based Test (IBT), or at least a score of 6.0 on the International English Testing System (IELTS) exam)
- Hold a governmental or corporate commitment to be employed in their home state’s nuclear energy infrastructure program upon completion
Additional admissions requirements for the GNEII Fundamentals Course include:
- Be from a Middle Eastern regional country (as defines as the 22 members of the League of Arab States)
- Meet all governmental entrance requirements for the UAE
- Be from a host nation that is a signatory in good standing to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)
- GNEII’s research element will be more fully realized under the newly named GNEII Senior Research Fellow. The Senior Research Fellow will conduct research in the technical and sociotechnical aspects of nuclear energy safety, safeguards, security, and nonproliferation; coordinate research projects between GNEII, Khalifa University’s Master of Science program in nuclear engineering, and Khalifa University’s Master of Arts program in International and Civil Security; and represent GNEII at appropriate academic and research conferences, symposia and forums. The vision is for GNEII to serve as a clearinghouse for collaborative research projects in nuclear safety, safeguards, and security involving regional nuclear energy professionals and programs.
- Similarly, GNEII is considering some longer term options to add enhanced technical capabilities that will further serve GNEII’s mission by augmenting classroom instruction with additional “hands-on experience” opportunities. In the immediate term, GNEII is developing plans with Khalifa University to develop a technology demonstration space where nuclear safety, safeguards, and security technologies could be displayed. As GNEII’s technical capability grows, potential activities might include integration of “3S” technologies (i.e. safety, safeguards, and security) with the simulation and laboratory capabilities developed for Khalifa University’s Nuclear Engineering Masters of Science program or expansion of the proposed GNEII technology demonstration space.
Taken together, GNEII is a physical institute, located in the Middle East, geared to boosting human resource capacities for regional nuclear energy programs and directly supporting and serving regional needs and sustainability.