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STAR-NET: universities have summed up six years of cooperation in the field of nuclear education

The VII General Assembly of the Regional Network for Education and Training in Nuclear Technology – STAR-NET was held on November 17–18, 2021 in the form of an online conference. More than 44 representatives of 12 universities-members from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Poland, Russia, Uzbekistan, Ukraine, and the IAEA took part in the event summing up the results of six years of the network’s work and identifying further areas of cooperation in the field of nuclear education.

The Deputy Director General of the IAEA, Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, Mikhail Chudakov addressed the participants with a welcoming speech. He pointed out that for the long-term development of highly qualified nuclear professionals, university education programmes in nuclear technology and management are vital. These programmes are becoming increasingly international in the form of network education through regional and interregional cooperation. These forms of cooperation facilitate a more effective use of resources, sharing of experiences, good practices and lessons learned, developing harmonized approaches for education in nuclear science and technology and supporting student mobility. He noted that the IAEA’s relationship with STAR-NET is multifaceted.

Mikhail Strikhanov, President of STAR-NET, Rector of NRNU MEPhI, noted that over six years the organization had created the necessary educational infrastructure and reached the level of other regional networks of nuclear education. The President of STAR-NET focused on the main factors that make it possible to successfully develop regional cooperation:

  • Understanding the importance of cooperation between the leading universities in the region in supplying qualified personnel for enterprises engaged in the peaceful use of nuclear energy
  • Direct involvement of top management of universities in the creation and operation of the network
  • Support of the IAEA and industry
  • Sufficient financial resources to support the network activities
  • Interest to the network activities from teaching staff
  • Support of educational courses and activities through information and methodological exchange
  • Smooth operation of the STAR-NET LMS
  • Collaboration with other educational networks and organizations

Andrei Timoshchenko, STAR-NET Vice-president, Head of the BSU Department of Nuclear Physics, addressed the issues of interaction between STAR-NET and the IAEA and other organizations. He pointed out that the agreement with other educational networks resigned in 2021 is being successfully implemented, and in the context of the pandemic, it is of particular importance for creating new opportunities for cooperation between researchers, faculty staff and students in different countries and regions. He informed the participants that the STAR-NET initiative group has prepared and submitted to the IAEA a regional project “Enhancing National Capabilities in the field of Nuclear Education and Knowledge Management”, which was highly rated by the IAEA Secretariate and suggested for implementation in 2022–2025.

Helena Zhivitskaya, Head of the IAEA Nuclear Knowledge Management Section, presented the IAEA’s initiatives in the field of nuclear knowledge management and nuclear education. She noted that the STAR-NET network effectively cooperates with the IAEA, complementing existing international initiatives and focusing on education and training of specialists and pays great attention to issues related to the use of safe nuclear technologies for sustainable development.

The participants elected the governing bodies of STAR-NET.

Vladimir Shevchenko, Acting Rector of the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI, was elected as the President of STAR-NET, and Andrey Timoshchenko, Head of the Department of Nuclear Physics of the Belarusian State University, Republic of Belarus, was elected as Vice-President.

The STAR-NET Presidium now includes:

  • Gor Vardanyan, Rector of National Polytechnic University of Armenia, Republic of Armenia
  • Vadim Bogush, Rector of Belorussian State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics, Republic of Belarus
  • Tamara Segeda, Dean of the School of Nuclear and Traditional Energy Technologies, D. Serikbayev East Kazakhstan Technical University, Republic of Kazakhstan
  • Mikolaj Oettingen, Assistant Professor, Department of Nuclear Energy, AGH University of Science and Technology, Republic of Poland
  • Sergey Dmitriev, Rector of Nyzhny Novgorod State Technical University named after R.E. Alekseev, Russian Federation
  • Vladimir Kravchenko, Director of the Educational – Scientific Centre for Nuclear Power Engineering, Odessa Polytechnic State University, Ukraine
  • Rashid Eshburiev, Head of nuclear physics and astronomy department, Samarkand State University, Republic of Uzbekistan

Andrei Kosilov, Professor of NRNU MEPhI was elected as the STAR-NET Managing Director, Alexander Khrobostov, Director of the Institute of Nuclear Energy and Technical Physics, Nyzhny Novgorod State Technical University named after R.E. Alekseev and Andrey Burov, Senior lecturer at Belarusian National Technical University were nominated as the STAR-NET auditors.

During the second day of the meeting the thematic groups team-leaders and university representatives discussed the experience gained by universities in solving the problems of education and professional training of specialists for the nuclear industry. Many universities have established cooperation with leading enterprises that involved in this work, international exchange of students and teachers, and the preparation of textbooks related to education in the field of nuclear technology. It was noted that the educational platform STAR-NET LMS plays an important role in organizing cooperation and implementing common educational tasks. The platform is supported and managed by the network STAR-NET and currently has more than 1300 users.

Based on the results of discussions of the submitted proposals, the participants approved the main areas of work for 2022, which include:

  • Extension of cooperation with the IAEA and other international and national organizations involved in nuclear education, including cooperation with other nuclear education networks
  • Development of cooperation with the CTBTO based on the agreement signed in June 2021
  • Development of relations between universities to organize joint educational programmes and internships for students in various nuclear engineering fields
  • Ongoing educational and methodological workshop STAR-NET “Educational technologies in higher education”
  • Regular webinars on current issues of nuclear energy for senior students, masters, postgraduates, employees, and teachers
  • Ongoing webinar on scientific, technical and research activities of member universities in the field of nuclear technology
  • Improvement of information exchange and replenishment of the electronic archive/repository of educational materials
  • Intensification of informing universities-members about events (past and planned) via the STAR-NET website
  • Creating a catalogue of online courses that can be recommended for inclusion in the practice of member universities
  • Development and implementation of the STAR-NET certification of educational programs at member universities

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