Nuclear Upended: Innovation Bootcamp

Byline: the Nuclear Upended Team

Students today haven’t learned that the nuclear industry tends to move slowly. It’s to the industry’s future advantage to encourage them to think fast. To spark innovation in nuclear energy, we must teach students how to innovate. The next generation must be provided with the tools they need to both build upon nuclear’s past successes and incorporate lessons from outside the industry.

There is invaluable institutional and technical knowledge transfer already taking place to enable the U.S. nuclear sector to continue thriving. But a successful transition requires work to be done on both sides of the generational divide.

The Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp, from August 1 to 12 at UC Berkeley, promises to be an event that will change the landscape of nuclear innovation. We chose the name Nuclear Upended for this year’s Bootcamp intentionally – we want to upend the traditional ways of thinking.

Twenty-five students from across the country – including at least five with non-technical backgrounds – will come together and learn to apply entrepreneurial thinking to nuclear energy while working on group design projects. The program will culminate in a late-afternoon event on August 12 where the students will present their projects to an audience including of nuclear stakeholders, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and the general public. These presentations will be judged and a cash prize awarded.

By including experts from across the nuclear sector as speakers and mentors, the Bootcamp will be an opportunity to make the inter-generational connections we need. These students will be prepared to take full advantage of the burgeoning restructuring of the United States’ federal research and development infrastructure and to bring advanced reactor designs to fruition.

Applications are open through May 11 for students with both technical and creative or non-technical backgrounds. Since the best ideas happen when we bring different thought-patterns together, all students passionate about nuclear energy are encouraged to apply, regardless of their academic focus, including current graduate students and undergraduate juniors/seniors from engineering, physics, journalism, social science, and art programs. If you are a student or know students who may be interested, please encourage them to apply.

LOGOThere are fantastic opportunities still available to get involved for students, professionals, and companies, particularly as professional mentors and corporate sponsors. If you have any questions about the program or would like to get involved, please email

One thought on “Nuclear Upended: Innovation Bootcamp

  1. Dr K S Parthasarathy

    Upended bootcamp program seems to be well designed to inspire the young generation. In India, we tried a different type of program for young persons in the (30-35) y age group.It was a two-week program for lecturers/Assistant Professors selected from all over India.The course covered many important topics in nuclear science and technology giving emphasis to the context in which we started the atomic energy program and the plans ahead. About 30 people attended each course. The Department of Atomic Energy repeated the program several times. The participants could meet with the senior most specialists in various fields in many sessions.The program was not meant to impart complete knowledge in any one area.Past, present and future programs were covered. We expected that these young academics will act as ambassadors in various institutions nationwide and will convey information to their students as and when they approach them.

    In India, nuclear engineering as a subject of study is available in only a handful of institutions. Scientists in the department served as coordinators of research projects in a few institutions. This also helped to establish personal contacts.

    Another program is an annual essay competition on two or three subjects in which graduates of all disciplines can participate. Reviewers select about 30 participants for making oral presentations on the topics they chose to write the essay on. Winners were chosen on the basis of their essays and oral presentations. Besides offering substantial cash awards, these participants are taken for visits to a nuclear power station and to the leading science & technology laboratories in the country. The 27th competition was held in October 2015. Many thousand young people participated in the program over the years.We believe that the program helped to introduce various topics of relevance to thousands of students.

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