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Breakthroughs Magazine

Special Report - Nonproliferation in an evolving world

Education—a key to advancing nonproliferation

Cultivating minds in science and technology has always been a focus at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, but an international need for nonproliferation experts is now a driving force to create new nonproliferation education programs and expand the breadth and depth of existing ones.

Through collaborations with local, regional and international universities and organizations, PNNL is positioning itself as a valuable contributor in the pursuit of global nonproliferation. The Laboratory and its partners are nurturing a multi-faceted education initiative that provides opportunities for PNNL staff, regional university students and international students and professors to learn about nuclear security and nonproliferation.

A groundbreaking program at the University of Washington, jointly sponsored with PNNL's Pacific Northwest Center for Global Security, is rapidly growing in terms of courses and interest. The Institute for Global and Regional Security Studies (IGRSS) has had an enrollment of about 100 students since it began in 2000. IGRSS directors Christopher Jones of UW, and Mark Leek, of the Center, hope to expand the program in 2005 to include a greater emphasis on regional instability and identification of root causes of unrest to address nonproliferation problems.

In a partnership with the Technical University of Nuclear Power Engineering in Obninsk, Russia, professors will teach an IGRSS Nonproliferation Overview course this winter. The partnership is a result of a year's worth of perseverance for funding and selecting Russian professors with the appropriate expertise and English speaking skills. Collaborative activities also could include Russian students and professors being encouraged by the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute to participate in the one-year IGRSS program at UW. In addition, Jones and Leek expect to offer a nuclear nonproliferation degree certificate for the program this fall.

A further major thrust of PNNL's effort is to expand the reach of the nonproliferation courses and strengthen strategic linkages between the Laboratory and regional university partners. In late July 2004, PNNL scientists collaborated with Idaho State University to develop and teach a Nonproliferation Instrumentation and Measurements course given under the auspices of the Western Nuclear Science Alliance at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory. Additional activities of PNNL and the Center for Global Security include exploring distance learning opportunities at the PNNL Richland campus, bringing in courses from regional universities and bringing in other international partners.

Existing internship programs at the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Nuclear Security Administration, the State Department and the International Atomic Energy Agency are evidence of the growing and urgent need for the next generation of experts in nuclear materials management. PNNL is leading the NNSA's nonproliferation intern program, which currently has 19 interns assigned to positions in Washington D.C., Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Russia. As part of this program, the Laboratory has created a comprehensive training and familiarization program to ready these young people for success in their nonproliferation careers.

Education initiatives are reaping benefits for all involved—PNNL, universities, nuclear industry, U.S. and other governments and others. To learn more, visit the Center for Global Security's Web site at http://pnwcgs.pnl.gov and the NNSA intern program Web site at http://ngp.pnl.gov.

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