Start main page content

Wits recognised by international body for leadership in nuclear science

- Wits University

Wits University has been endorsed by the prestigious International Nuclear Management Academy for its Nuclear Technology Leadership Programme.

International Nuclear Management Academy endorses Wits' Nuclear Technology Leadership Programme

Nuclear science and technologies are critical in various industries, including in the health and energy sector. The need for leadership and management skills amongst the technologists, scientists and engineers that drive the nuclear field is therefore of the utmost importance in order to ensure safer and more secure implementations of this technology. These requirements led to the formation of Wits University’s Nuclear Technology Leadership Programme, which has just been officially endorsed by the International Nuclear Management Academy (INMA) of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Wits also received full membership of INMA at the IAEA. The IAEA, whose foundation dates back to the 1950s, is mandated to promote safe, secure and peaceful nuclear technologies.

“The INMA endorsement process was very rigorous, and very significant,” says Prof. Ian Jandrell, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment. “That an international body affiliated with the IAEA has endorsed us, through an international peer reviewed system, is the pinnacle of achievement for this programme. We are really thrilled.”

This sentiment is echoed by Professor Nithaya Chetty, Dean of Science at Wits.

“With the long-standing concerns about safety and security in the nuclear energy sector, this programme really instils a lot of confidence in the ways in which we can grow capacity in terms of harnessing nuclear energy,” says Chetty.

The leadership programme was designed by experts from various disciplines drawn from the Wits Business School, the School of Engineering and the School of Physics and was borne out of a request from Eskom, South Africa’s power producer. The cross-disciplinary nature of the programme was critical to ensure relevance and to close the gap in industry.

Launched in 2015, the leadership programme has produced two cohorts, the majority of which have been headhunted for their unique combination of technical and management skills.

The INMA membership certificate was awarded to Wits at a virtual ceremony on 11 November 2020 and received by Chetty, Jandrell, Dr Tim Hutton, Executive Education Director at the Wits Business School, and Professor James Larkin, Director of the Wits Radiation and Health Physics Unit.

The Nuclear Technology Leadership Programme will become more critical as South Africa and other countries on the continent continue to develop their nuclear programmes in a safe and secure manner.

The emphasis on leadership is a strength of the programme

“Management has not always been a high priority in the nuclear sector,” says Tim Hutton. Consequently, “technological aspects are de-emphasised in this programme, since applicants are expected to have a background in nuclear engineering through prior qualifications and practical experience from plants such as the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station,” says Larkin.

In line with nurturing skills and broadening access, this programme was developed from day one to be a blended offering – specifically designed to enable remote learning for students who are already in a work environment, says Professor Ian Jandrell, Dean of the Wits Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment.