Ukrainian grad students participate in DOE program

June 4, 2024, 9:30AMANS Nuclear Cafe
A screenshot from a DOE video showing the eight Ukrainian students from the department’s internship program at Argonne National Laboratory, along with one of their tour guides (second from left). (Image: DOE)

Eight graduate students from Ukrainian universities have completed a two-year Department of Energy internship program that included a visit to Argonne National Laboratory.

During the internship program, which the DOE established to help grow the workforce of Ukraine’s nuclear energy industry, the students met with U.S. government officials and representatives from U.S. companies, took abbreviated courses at Argonne, and toured the lab’s facilities to learn about the advanced technologies of boiling water reactors and small modular reactors.

Special arrangements: Three cohorts of students participated in the internship program, with all the students working toward higher degrees related to nuclear energy. Most of the students’ activities took place in Ukraine due to travel restrictions related to the war. However, special arrangements were made to allow eight students from the cohorts to visit the United States for a brief period.

The U.S. visit allowed the students to be exposed to innovative technologies that are not available in Ukraine; all 15 of that country’s nuclear reactors are based on the old Soviet VVER pressurized water technology.

Future of Ukraine: Physicist Igor Bodnar, the principal project manager for the internship program at Argonne, noted the importance and unique value of the program for the students, as well as for Ukraine, stating, “This nuclear internship program . . . helped [the students] receive the most up-to-date information on advanced reactor technology, particularly U.S.-designed [small modular reactors], which we hope will be an important element of the future Ukraine energy infrastructure.”

Nuclear engineer Damian Peko, of the DOE’s Office of International Nuclear Energy Policy and Cooperation, observed that the internship program will help motivate the students in their career objectives. “Nuclear power was losing popularity, if you will, in Ukraine, at least it was before the war,” he said. “This internship [is] pulling in some of, really, the best and the brightest students and getting them interested in a path [advanced technologies] toward nuclear energy that they otherwise wouldn’t have been interested in.”

Hopes for peace: Following their U.S. visit, the eight students returned to Ukraine to continue their education and their pursuit of careers in the nuclear energy industry. Hopefully, they will soon be able to pursue those careers in a country that is at peace.

Related Articles

The future has more in store for nuclear

June 6, 2024, 7:04AMNuclear News

Big news as I write this, my last column as ANS president: Legislation has been passed that will ban the importation of uranium from Russia (though waivers can be used in certain circumstances...

Halil Avci: ANS member since 1978

May 31, 2024, 9:30AMNuclear News

We welcome ANS members who have careered in the community to submit their own Nuclear Legacy stories, so that the personal history of nuclear power can be captured. For information on...