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What is INMA?

What is INMA?​

Nuclear projects around the world, whether the full construction of a nuclear power plant, installation of ancillary equipment or development of a concept should all be delivered on budget and time, and to the required standard needed for their safe efficient operation, but unfortunately this is often not the reality. Management improvements in the nuclear industry are a desired aim and would be beneficial to all stakeholders. It is also important that managers in the nuclear industry have knowledge of nuclear and radiation science to enable them to perform at the highest level.

Many of the managers currently working in the operational or decommissioning nuclear sectors may have a technical background and were subject matter experts before moving into senior management roles. Without any management experience it may have been difficult to acquire the new competencies to successfully manage projects. This has the double impact on the organization of having a manager that is not fully prepared for their new role and the loss of a subject matter expert. The recruitment of experienced managers from outside the nuclear sector may be one way to improve a company's management capability but this is not an ideal solution as they will not have any nuclear or radiation knowledge.

Until now there was no career path for nuclear experts to gain management skills or experienced managers to acquire the required level of nuclear and radiation knowledge. The new professional designation of nuclear technology management (NTM) professional has therefore been established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) initiated International Nuclear Management Academy (INMA) to accurately reflect the balance of required competencies.

The IAEA organised a Consultancy Meeting for nuclear education professionals to ask how they could contribute to the education of nuclear technology managers. The outcome of the meeting was that a postgraduate master's level programme, preferably integrated within a nuclear professional's career, would be the optimum method to gain the competencies required. The best way to develop management skills is to learn by doing rather than learn by listening, so experiential based learning or on-the-job training are vital aspects of any technology management educational programme. The IAEA supports the development of these programmes by the INMA member universities.

To ensure that the curriculum for the programmes matches the requirements of industry, a consultation with industry was conducted to ask which key competencies are required for a nuclear technology manager. Curriculum Topics for a master’s level educational programme in nuclear technology management that would instil these competencies were chosen and grouped into four categories, External Environment, Technology, Management and Leadership. Some of the Curriculum Topics are classified as “Required” for all nuclear technology management programmes, whereas others were deemed to be "As Appropriate" to allow for different curricula for different programme specialisations, such as new build, operation or decommissioning.

A comprehensive nuclear technology management programme can "managerize" nuclear technology specialists and "nuclearize" managers as required, but NTM programmes do not provide all the required competencies of a nuclear technology management professional. This requires that any prior knowledge, skills and competencies are included, as well as those learned in their work environment during and after the period of the master's programme.

The International Nuclear Management Academy has identified and defined fifty Curriculum Topics in four Categories to help universities design INMA-NTM Programmes that are compliant with the requirements.

The number of hours of study to complete a science or engineering master's programme is typically 1800 to 2400. To achieve the nuclear technology management professional designation, it is expected that the student will have to complete around 4000 hours of study, which ensures that there is a large component of experiential learning and/or on the job training as well as the master's qualification. The balance of learning hours for the different components is shown in Table 1.

Component

Approximate Range of Learning Hours

External Environment

150 - 450

Technology

450 - 750

Management

300 - 750

Leadership

150 - 300

Master’s Project and Dissertation

300 - 600

Experiential Component

600 - 1200


Table 1: The Recommended Breakdown of the Total Learning Hours Required for a Nuclear Technology Management Professional

The university should consider the resources available within its own faculties and partner companies, and if delivering the programme as a consortium, its partner universities. Industry support is vital as that is where the experience of managing nuclear facilities will predominantly reside.

INMA has established a process to ensure that the NTM programmes comply with the INMA requirements. To initiate the process, a university contacts the IAEA to express interest in establishing a master's programme in nuclear technology management. An initial assist mission by a team of experts assembled by the IAEA can then be arranged to ascertain whether the university has the capability to deliver a full NTM programme, and if not advise on the steps that need to be taken. The initial assist mission will also take into consideration the national and institution policy regarding nuclear energy and education to understand whether the NTM programme would be sustainable.

When the NTM programme has been established the university can request an INMA Final Assessment Mission to benchmark the programme against the INMA requirements and ascertain whether the programme should be endorsed as an INMA-NTM programme with the university being recognised as an INMA Member.

Prior to the Final Assessment Mission the university performs a self-assessment which has been designed by INMA to enable universities to provide a detailed quantitative and qualitative analysis of their programme. It provides information on:

  • Summary of the programme and courses;
  • Details of how the Curriculum Topics in each Category are taught;
  • National policy and the strategy of the university for the implementation of NTM programmes;
  • Predicted outcomes of the programme;
  • Details on collaboration with industry;
  • Details on collaboration with national and international partners.

This analysis produces an Information Package, which is submitted to the IAEA for review and guides the selection of the Expert Team for the Final Assessment Mission. The mission can then be arranged which can take up to five days depending on the programme(s) to be reviewed. The mission will typically:

  • Compare the institution's NTM programme with the INMA requirements and discuss the strengths and any possible weaknesses; 
  • Identify best practices related to the implementation of INMA programmes that can be shared with other INMA members; 
  • Provide feedback on how to further improve or strengthen the programme, as well as the overall INMA framework

After the completion of the Final Assessment Mission the Expert Team compiles a report that will include recommendations to the institution on their NTM programme and to the IAEA on the overall INMA framework. If the Final Assessment Mission Report is positive, then the institution can be recommended to become a Member of the International Nuclear Management Academy.

All the universities so far assessed offer a unique version of an NTM programme, some are part-time, some are full-time over one or two years. There is also a spectrum of the balance between technology and management competencies that are included to reflect the needs of the local stakeholders.

Improving the standard of management within the nuclear industry will enhance the safety as well as other benefits, such as greater efficiency, better economics, the recruitment and retention of higher quality staff and wider acceptance of nuclear energy for the safe, secure and economic production of electricity, as well as nuclear energy utilization beyond electricity. INMA supports all of these objectives.

The International Nuclear Management Academy has attracted many universities that see nuclear technology management as a key requirement for a successful nuclear industry. In close cooperation with industry, NTM programmes have now been established around the world. INMA provides support for the establishment and sustainable delivery of these programmes through an increasing number of member universities, where NTM has become a core part of their nuclear education programme.