National Nuclear Laboratory


Sunday 25 May 2014

Fun and Fascination in the Nuclear Industry

With the advent of nuclear new build, the newly formed National Nuclear Laboratory is collaborating with the educational charity The Smallpeice Trust to demonstrate the exciting opportunities available to the scientists and engineers of tomorrow.

Through a four-day residential course, schoolchildren aged 15 and 16 years old with an interest in the nuclear industry have been tackling a variety of hands-on design and make projects as they learn more about a career in this sector.

More than 70 pupils from across the UK were involved in the course held at the University of Manchester to develop their interest and increase their understanding of the industry, providing an introduction to nuclear engineering, the potential careers and the skills needed to work in the nuclear business.

The course covered a range of issues such as radiation, the environment, decommissioning and waste. At the end of the course, the pupils – who were split into teams – gave a presentation of their Design-and-Make project to senior executives of the NNL, taking into account working with radiation and what that means.

Peter Bleasdale, who is leading the NNL, said: “We are proud to be enabling these activities to happen and to see the excitement of the pupils as they start to discover the opportunities available in this industry.

“This is an investment in the future and we need fresh blood to help us meet the challenges we are facing. This is an exciting time in this industry and courses like this help to involve young people and open their eyes to it.”

Dominic Rhodes, Technology Manager for the NNL, said the students who participated are at a key stage of their learning.

He said: “We want to help students as they start to make choices for the future and to demonstrate the appeal of this industry and how challenging and rewarding it can be. We also wanted to push their boundaries in terms of the exercises. They had to wear respirators in some instances, dress in special overalls and use multiple gloves which is good experience if they are thinking seriously about this as a career.”

Spokesperson for The Smallpeice Trust Gemma Murphy said: “This kind of course gives the students a taste of university life and a genuine insight into the real-life challenges faced by engineers in the nuclear sector. We see this as a successful collaboration which works for everyone involved.”

The nuclear engineering course is run by the independent charity The Smallpeice Trust as part of an ongoing programme of residential courses designed to help young people aged 13 to 18 learn and develop skills in engineering, design, technology and manufacturing.  Through running residential courses and Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) enrichment sessions, The Trust has reached out to around 8,000 students across the UK in the past year.

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Notes to Editor

The Smallpeice Trust

The Smallpeice Trust was founded in 1966 by Dr Cosby Smallpeice, a pioneering engineer and inventor of the Smallpeice Lathe. Following the stock market flotation of his company Martonair, Dr Smallpeice invested his energy and part of his personal fortune to set up the Trust to ensure that British industry could continuously benefit from his proven design and engineering philosophies: “Simplicity in design, economy in production.”

Over the last year, The Smallpeice Trust has reached out to over 8,000 young people through over 32 different subsidised 4-day residential courses and 1-day in-school curriculum enrichment activities, offering training in all aspects of Engineering.

For more information about The Smallpeice Trust and the training they provide, please visit

The National Nuclear Laboratory

The National Nuclear Laboratory has been formed out of what was Nexia Solutions Limited, which was a wholly owned subsidiary of British Nuclear Fuels plc. The NNL is developing the skills and technologies to safeguard the UK nuclear industry now and for the future, providing customers with tailored solutions by applying the appropriate level of technical innovation and intellectual support. 

Customers include the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), Sellafield Ltd, Westinghouse, Ministry of Defence, United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), VT Nuclear and British Energy plc.

The NNL provides nuclear technology services across the full nuclear fuel cycle and develops expertise across diverse science and engineering disciplines.

For further information, please contact:

Gareth ThomasCommunicationsNational Nuclear Laboratory07740 819728