ISTP Nuclear Engineering Master’s Degree – the French triad8 January 2014
Developed by ISTP, the innovative 26-month Nuclear Engineering Master’s Degree programme was selected as a winner of the NEI Nuclear Training Awards 2013 by an expert panel of judges. The course combines an industrial placement with classroom-based and online learning.
The Nuclear Engineering Master's Degree from the Institut Supérieur des Techniques de la Performance (ISTP) in France was launched in 2010. The course, which costs EUR 26,000 ($37,000) per student, is 'well connected to the industry,' says judge Jacques Regaldo, and teaches both nuclear fundamentals and practical skills for use in the field.
The ISTP Nuclear Engineering Master's Degree is open to those aged 26 or above, with at least two years of higher education and with at least three years' experience in a technical and possibly supervisory role in the nuclear industry. Places are limited to 20 per year, with candidates selected based on their levels in science and technical subjects, and English, as well as their motivation and professional knowledge. These elements are assessed through review of application forms, testing, personal interviews and interviews with managers within the candidate's company.
Training is 70% industrial placement combined with 30% academic training. A typical month would comprise 3.5 days of classroom training at ISTP (in French), 16.5 days of company placement, and 14 hours of distance learning.
The course covers the full range of nuclear topics from fuel & fuel cycle to operations, maintenance and decommissioning. Academic subjects are divided into five groups: general training, project management in the nuclear field, engineering sciences and techniques, environmental and nuclear-related activities, and quality, security, safety. Around 30% of the academic training is carried out through distance learning.
High level of industry involvement
Teachers come from the two academic partners (École Nationale Supérieure des Mines Saint-Etienne or Institut National des Sciences et Techniques du Nucléaire, INSTN) as well as from the nuclear industry via French nuclear operator EDF, French regulator ASN, reactor vendor AREVA and also from CEA, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission.
Nuclear companies are committed partners in the institute, participating in the board of governors, delivering lectures and assessing and validating skills. Partners include not only EDF and AREVA, but also nuclear subcontractors like OTND, Velan, Lloyd's, Orys, Ponticelli, Spie, GDF Suez, and Assystem.
"The training programme is very robust, performed by experienced teachers, with strong partners like the French National Institute for Nuclear Science and Technology (INSTN), and it also delivers a French governmental certification" said Jacques Regaldo, chairman of the World Association of Nuclear Operators.
ISTP has a ISO 9001 qualification, which certifies the quality and the rigor of its training. Moreover the diploma is certified by the CTI (Commission des Titres d'Ingenieurs), a French governmental certification body.
Real benefits for employers
During the industrial placement, students, who are usually working as higher technicians in a nuclear company, have to conduct a real project at their workplace. Examples of projects carried out in the past have included optimization of maintenance and investigation in the engine room of a nuclear power plant, development of quality, safety, environment in a new sodium treatment unit, and project management of chemical conditioning of secondary circuits in a pressurized water reactor.
This associated industrial placement is monitored by a consultant engineer from the school as well as an engineer from the student's own company.
So far 26 students have graduated, and another 21 are in the course, but evidence strongly supports the effectiveness of the programme. All graduates have a permanent contract and a high-level job. Examples include project manager, maintenance field engineer, project engineer or plant operator. Their average gross salary is EUR 38,750/year.
Other shortlisted courses
- Conduct of Engineering Workshop (Ontario Power Generation)
- Know-Why Residual Heat Removal System (AREVA Training Center Offenbach)
- Nuclear Leadership Programme (EDF Energy)
- SAFETYNUC (International Nuclear Academy)