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NRC Staff Train Students in Africa

While the NRC’s mission is to regulate nuclear materials in the U.S., we do, at times, have an opportunity to help other countries. Recently, I was one of two NRC inspectors who were invited to Ghana to assist the International Atomic Energy Agency in training 25 students from 13 developing African countries. The focus for myself and Willie Lee, of the office of Federal and State Materials and Environmental Management, was to train students in the technology, use and regulation of industrial and medical radioactive materials.

The course was hosted by the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, at the University of Ghana graduate school. The students were selected based upon responses to a lengthy application process and their respective country’s need for trained inspectors. During the four-week program, the students were provided room and board plus a small stipend at the university dormitories, and they gained knowledge and experience in the technology and regulation essential to ensuring the safety of the sources in their home countries.

As part of the visit, we were given a tour of the University of Ghana Research Reactor, laboratories and graduate school, and even invited to present additional lectures to the graduate level nuclear engineering classes on the accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The students were very interested in how to apply the lessons from those accidents to their own country’s regulations.

What the students lacked in experience they made up for with enthusiasm. We found the African people to be eager to learn, bursting with excitement and overflowing with kindness.

I now have a much greater appreciation for the African people, for what they lacked in material possessions they made up for with a desire to achieve and maintain safety for their countries.

Doug Simpkins
Trainer, Technical Training Center

7 responses to “NRC Staff Train Students in Africa

  1. Anonymous January 11, 2012 at 9:05 am

    I worked in Ghana for several years during construction and operations of the Takoradi Thermal Power Plant and certainly echo the writer’s remarks concerning the Ghanian students. If only the young people in the US would participate in their schooling with as much zeal and dedication.

  2. Cruises Perth January 8, 2012 at 9:16 pm

    “…for what they lacked in material possessions they made up for with a desire to achieve and maintain safety for their countries.”

    It just shows that these people are still hopeful and is striving hard to give their country a better future. These people are truly very inspiring.

  3. Pro7 Live January 8, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    Hi, really interesting article.
    Very informative.

  4. Green Planet Grass January 6, 2012 at 2:50 am

    I appreciate how NRC helps poor people. More power to the organization. The story is truly very touching.

  5. Lendio January 5, 2012 at 1:18 am

    We are glad that knowledge is passed.

  6. nazvi January 4, 2012 at 3:27 pm

    That’s great to know that NRC is training other countries too.Its necessary for most of the developing countries to have some experts on nuclear technology.Hopefully more countries and students will join in this training program of you guys.

  7. HMA VPN January 4, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Thanks for sharing your story. I would have never thought NRC actually provides educational help to poor countries. I have been spending last 10 years in Africa teaching English and I agree with you that Africans are eager to learn.

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