National Nuclear Laboratory


Thursday 14 July 2022

Forging new links with AWE

Recently, members of our Early Careers community came together with counterparts at Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at the inaugural NuLINKS Conference. With a focus on Security and Non-proliferation, the purpose of the event was to share learning, complementary capabilities and innovations – highlighting collaboration on key areas of interest between the two organisations. The event was hosted by AWE and organised by early careers colleagues from both organisations.

Our Director of International Engagement, Security and Non-Proliferation, Dr Rob Whittleston, discussed the security of nuclear technologies and the challenges they face to meet the growing UK energy demands. Whilst AWE Director Science, Professor Andrew Randewich and AWE Director Nuclear Threat Reduction (NTR), Dr Dominic Jones, provided an insight into AWE’s mission and how NTR supports that.

At the event, delegates debated and discussed how the two organisations can work together for the benefit of both defence and civil nuclear industries. There were also presentations from subject matter experts at AWE and NNL as well as a dedicated poster session showcasing technical research. In the afternoon, Broad Perspectives on Nuclear Issues (BPNI), led an interactive debate to get everyone thinking and discussing current nuclear topics. BPNI is a forum for AWE employees to discuss world affairs and wider nuclear issues of interest.

Rob said: “It is only through working collaboratively that we’ll successfully advance nuclear science to benefit our society. Bringing together two national institutions, the inaugural NuLINKS conference struck precisely the right tone. The sheer energy and enthusiasm were infectious, and the opportunities to work together were numerous from the outset. We were left in no doubt that this was just the start of exciting things to come. A privilege to witness.”

Dominic added: “The organisers did a great job in providing the opportunity for AWE and NNL to come together to present, share knowledge and network to build relationships and boost collaboration. It was the first event of its kind, and it is exciting that we are developing stronger links with the civil nuclear sector and raising the profile of AWE with the UK nuclear enterprise. Given its success, NNL has already taken steps to initiate the next NuLINKS conference in 2023.”  

 NNL delegate, Olivia, said: “It was a very insightful day as previously I didn’t have much knowledge about AWE, so it was interesting to learn about the variety of work that they’re carrying out and to see how this links to NNL’s Security & Non-Proliferation Focus Area. It was also a valuable opportunity to meet members of the AWE Early Careers community and hear about their experiences and share our own.”

AWE engineering graduate, Laura, said: “The AWE-NNL conference was really beneficial. Both the AWE and NNL talks were really engaging and hearing about the work NNL does was really interesting, especially thinking about how what they do ties into what we do. Having the opportunity to network with NNL staff was great too – especially as AWE and NNL hope to work together more in the future!”

This event was organised by graduates, for graduates. Huge congratulations go to the team of AWE and NNL graduates, who worked tirelessly to plan and organise the conference which was a resounding success.