Strengthening nuclear innovators – Bootcamp at Berkeley

The Nuclear Innovation Alliance is partnering with universities, national labs, think tanks, the Department of Energy and corporations including Southern Co., Google, Transatomic, Terrestrial Energy, and TerraPower to offer the first Nuclear Innovation Bootcamp August 1-12 at the University of California, Berkeley.


Twenty-five students (graduate students or undergraduates who will have completed their third year of study) will engage in a two week program. Areas in nuclear that would benefit from innovation are not limited to engineering. The organizers of this initial bootcamp are seeking to attract students from a diverse set of backgrounds with possible majors including economics, policy, communications, journalism, design, physics and engineering.

The student out of pocket cost (their “skin in the game” in addition to investing a valuable two weeks of summer) is a $200 registration fee plus paying for their transportation to and from the Berkeley campus. Room and board will be provided. (That price, by the way, is lower in nominal dollars than the church-sponsored summer camp I attended in the 1960s. In my opinion, it is a very good deal.)

Deadline for applications is May 11. Students will be informed whether or not they have been accepted no later than May 31.

The curriculum is based on the Sutardja Center for Entrepreneurship & Technology’s Berkeley Method of Entrepreneurship program (BMOE) for entrepreneurship and innovation, while nuclear specific topics will be introduced and discussed under the leadership of experts in the field. Here’s list of confirmed speakers (subject to change).

Person Company Session
Mike Kurzeja Exelon Context presentations and/or crosscutting panel (first day)
Leslie Dewan Transatomic Context presentations and/or crosscutting panel (first day) and/or startup
Phil Hildebrandt INL Design Choices in Existing Reactors: Lessons Learned
Ryan Falvey CFS Innovation Innovation in Highly Regulated Fields (Biotech, Space, Finance, Travel?)
Todd Allen Third Way Navigating the Political Landscape
Jacopo Buongiorno MIT Offshore reactor case study
Ray Rothrock Venrock Getting funded as a startup AND Finance for long-lead
Raluca Scarlatt U Wisc Organizing Ethics and Responsible Design
Per Peterson UCB Organizing Highlights and Challenges in Advanced Nuclear Technology
Irfan Ali Advanced Reactor Concepts Presentations with Judging
Phil Russell INPO Safety Philosophy, Safety Goals, Defense in Depth
Jessica Lovering Breakthrough Institute Understanding Energy Markets
W. Holland Holland Consulting Understanding IP
Michael Van Loy Mintz Understanding IP
Sebastien Lounis Cyclotron Road What is it Like / Opportunities at an Incubator or Accelerator?
Nathan Gililand General Fusion What is it like in startup and/or startup financing
Linda Pouliot Hardware Startup What is it Like to Be in a Startup?
Jeremy Conrad Lemnos Labs What it’s like in startup / Getting funded as startup
Ed Blandford UNM Working with Licensing and Regulation in Nuclear
Mike Safyan Planet Labs Innovation in other highly regulated industries

Of course, bootcamps are not passive learning experiences.

Students will be grouped together into five design teams and will have opportunities to immediately exercise their newly developed knowledge with their team as they build up to the program’s conclusion. Here is the description of the climax event of the two week program:

Completion: Teams will present their designs at the program’s conclusion to an audience including company representatives, potential private investors, technical experts, relevant NGOs, and Department of Energy program managers. There will be judges and a cash prize. This will be a half-day session followed by a reception.
(Note: Nothing like a little competition and a cash prize to motivate entrepreneurial enthusiasm.)

The NIA’s plan is to learn from experience, continue to develop the concept and the curriculum, and expand the training to a six to eight week long session beginning in the summer of 2017.

If only I was a student again. [Wistfully, with a sigh.]

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