By Jane LeClair
CONTE 2017 was an informative and successful gathering for those with a vested interest in nuclear training and education. The Hyatt Regency Riverfront in Jacksonville, FL was once again the beautiful setting for the event and as always it was well attended with participants from across the country and around the globe.
The conference began officially on Monday, February 6th, but traditionally, it unofficially began with the Sunday Super Bowl Reception hosted this year by Exelon Generation. The event was a great opportunity to meet new individuals, educators and vendors who work in the industry and of course, network with past colleagues.
The conference began on Monday with welcoming remarks by General Chair Julie Sickles followed with opening remarks that highlighted two current challenges to the industry: the need to recruit and properly prepare new workers, and the need to select the right caliber of individuals for the job in order to continue to be successful.
ANS President Dr. Andrew Klein, Lawrence Jones Past President of ABET, and Dr. Dohee Hahn from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were Monday’s keynote speakers. President Klein reviewed what he sees as current issues in the field, including keeping current plants operating, constructing new and replacement units, as well as the importance of a well trained and educated work force. Jones spoke about the ongoing work of ABET accreditation and its importance to the industry. On the international level, Dr. Dohee Hahn provided the IAEA views regarding future international challenges of nuclear power, to include development and support to new and existing plants and training programs around the globe.
Throughout the event numerous presenters provided attendees with a great deal of information that could be transferred back to the workplace. Monday’s highlights included IAEA capacity building and workforce development, personnel and engineering training and qualification, and sessions on operator training and cybersecurity. Activities didn’t slow down on Tuesday, with breakouts or panels on simulators, leadership, lessons learned, nuclear safety and security, as well as Delivering the Nuclear Promise Tuesday’s plenary speaker, Honorable Stephen G. Burns 16th Chairman of the NRC, discussed changes in the industry. The event wrapped up on Wednesday with the closing plenary speaker: Kim Maza, Vice President, Workforce Training Education and Proficiency, INPO, and additional sessions on operator training, simulator, and leadership, plus presentations on cybersecurity, international perspectives on the future of nuclear power, and reducing simulator training costs.
There were over 300 attendees from the U.S. and abroad attending CONTE 2017, over 20 vendors, and numerous international attendees. The high-quality information presented will be taken back to countless workplaces and used to improve the industry as a whole. With CONTE 2017 wrapped up, the planning now begins for CONTE 2019…see you in two years.
Jane LeClair is President of the Washington Center for Cybersecurity Research & Development, which assists government, industry and education in meeting cyber challenges. Prior to this, she was Chief Operating Officer at the National Cybersecurity Institute in Washington, D.C., and Dean of the School of Business and Technology at Excelsior College.