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Central England Branch Speaking Competition 2017

A Very High Standard and Challenging Topics at the 2017 Central England Branch YGN Speaking Competition

CEB Speaking Comp

Central England Branch YGN Speaking Competition 2017 Finalists With Branch Chairman Dr. Mehdi Askarieh. From left to right: Luke Taylor; Anthony Stevenson; Tom Cox; Dr Mehdi Askarieh; Joseph Leigh; Anthony Shaw.
Central England Branch (CEB) Young Speakers Competition was held on 30 March 2017. The competition was open to everyone under the age of 37 at the time of the competition (i.e. those eligible to be members of the NI Young Generation Network - YGN) and the topic area was anything nuclear or environmental.  Each talk lasted 10 minutes followed by a short Q&A session.

The key theme of the event was to demonstrate communication skills before a live audience, with the emphasis on effective presentation. Marks were awarded for four aspects:  Synopsis; Oral Presentation; Clarity and Use of Visual Aids; and Ability to Explain to a Non-Technical Audience.  The judges decided that aspects two and three were the most important in the context of the key theme and weighted the marking accordingly (5,10, 10, 5), giving a maximum possible score of 30.  The target presentation time was 10 minutes.

The first prize was awarded to Anthony Shaw from UKAEA (Culham Centre for Fusion Energy - CCFE).  Anthony will represent CEB at the National Grand Speakers Final, in September 2017 in Manchester.

The full results were:

1st: Anthony Shaw, UKAEA
2nd: Tom Cox, UKAEA
3rd: Joseph Leigh, Areva RMC
4th equals: Anthony Stevenson, AWE and Luke Taylor, Areva RMC

All the presentations were of a very high standard, as evidenced by the markings being close. The judges congratulated each of the finalists for contributing to this excellent result. All presentations were delivered with good time keeping, in a friendly and relaxed manner, connecting well with the audience.

We received a most interesting, challenging, enjoyable and diverse selection of presentations, as summarised below:

Wrong by definition: Magnetically confined nuclear fusion in as many analogies as I can get my hands on; Anthony Shaw, UKAEA

Noting that nuclear fusion is the subject of intense international research to try and provide a clean, safe and abundant energy source for the future, Anthony described the workings of magnetic confinement ('Sun in a bottle') fusion machines. His objective was to arm us with enough knowledge to understand quite how it is possible to build a star on Earth, without a postgraduate physics degree pre-requisite!

Fossil Fuels: Stuck in the Stone Age? Tom Cox, UKAEA

Tom's theme was that in an age when even our fridges contain smart technology, we need to stop relying on prehistoric methods to meet ever-growing energy demands. He explored the past, present and future sources of energy: what they are, the impact they have, and the feasibility of each meeting the demands of generations to come.

Would you rather work at Chernobyl or Piper Alpha? Joseph Leigh, Areva RMC

Joseph made a direct industry comparison between Chernobyl and Piper Alpha: reviewing what have the lasting effects been, and asking which industry is truly safer? He explored why the public’s opinion of nuclear is so divided, and how to address the most prevalent misconceptions regarding the industry.

Novel pyro-processing for spent fuel mitigation: less swings, more roundabouts; Anthony Stevenson, AWE

Anthony pointed out that uranium within spent fuel can be reintroduced back into the fuel cycle, provided that a safe, cost-effective and reliable reprocessing technology be implemented, thereby dastically reducing the waste burden. He outlined the basics of pyro-chemical reprocessing [pyro-processing] as a way of achieving this objective.

The thorium fuel cycle; Luke Taylor, Areva RMC

Luke explained that thorium is 3-4 times more abundant than uranium in the earth’s crust making it a much more sustainable option than uranium as a nuclear fuel. Additionally, thorium-fuelled reactors are intrinsically proliferation resistant, exhibit greater chemical and physical properties, and produce far less transuranic waste. Luke outlined the fundamentals of thorium as a fuel, highlighting key advantages, disadvantages, past experience and feasible reactor designs.