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Western Branch and YGN Speaking Competition -

Western Branch and YGN Speaking Competition 

On 3 May 2018, the Nuclear Institute with support from the YGN, held the regional Speaking Competition at Burges Salmon's Bristol office. The annual event gives young members of the nuclear industry a chance to practice their public speaking skills and compete for the 1st prize of £300, and a chance to take part in the national final.
The event host, Gavin Shaw of Burges Salmon, welcomed the audience and introduced the judging panel. This year we were fortunate to have an esteemed judging panel made up of Anna Ellis (NI Western Branch Chair, of Indigo Consulting); Professor Chris Hutson (University of Bristol, Research Associate, School of Physics); and Ian Salter (Burges Salmon, Partner (Projects)).
The YGN would like to thank Burges Salmon for sponsoring and hosting the event.  The event could not have taken place without their support.

The first speaker of the night was Seth Ford from the Ministry of Defence who presented on the topic “A Nuclear Watch”. Seth took the opportunity to reflect on how far we’d come - from the very first computers - to now, examining the cutting edge research being conducted in the nuclear industry.  Seth posed the question, where could it take us next? 

Next up was Sophie Collier representing Horizon Nuclear who brought us an insightful presentation titled “Nuclear Energy is Set For a Comeback – But Are We Ready For It?” citing the excessive consumption of fossil fuels which are accelerating concerns over energy security and putting nuclear energy is back on the map.  Sophie considered whether we can, as a nation, provide the necessary workforce to make this comeback a success. Sophie made a compelling case for a need for the need to offer the right set of career progression opportunities for graduates.

Simon Briggs, an Independent Applicant delivered a talk titled “Trust me; I’m a Nuclear Professional!” considering the nuclear industry’s fascination with documenting everything.  Simon’s presentation left the audience questioning whether the focus on documentation helps or hinders the public’s perception of distrust or uncertainty in the nuclear industry.

Edward Macey, from Cavendish Nuclear Limited asked the question “Is Nuclear Power too safe?” and during his presentation and he explored whether the nuclear industry could be a victim of its own efforts to constantly focus on safety.  Edward closed his presentation by considering the ways that the industry could strive to find a balance, for example, whether the nuclear industry could benefit by collaborating with other industries.

James Metcalfe also from Horizon Nuclear, delivered a presentation titled “Are Elon Musk’s batteries the end of nuclear?” encouraging the audience to consider how battery technology has rocketed globally in development compared to the slow nuclear industry, and how this could impact the future potential requirements for new nuclear power stations and research.

The sixth and final speaker of the night, Michael Uzodhu from EDF Energy concluded the speeches with “Changing the perception of the nuclear industry?” and delivered an engaging presentation encouraging the audience as nuclear industry professionals, to take responsibility for continuously advocating to the public (including friends and family) the benefits of nuclear energy (as well as being factual about the risks).
The judges then broke off to confer and pick their top three. This was no easy task given the high calibre of the speakers.
The judges reached a decision and after thanking the speakers, the winners were announced. The results this year were:
3rd Place: Seth Ford who was praised for his presentation despite being the first to take the stand.  Seth was praised for his presentation style and delivery.
2nd Place: Uzodhu Michael who was praised for his engaging and polished presentation.  Uzodhu was also praised for his well handled responses to questions from the judges and the audience.
1st Place: James Metcalf who was praised for keeping his presentation fun and engaging throughout.  James was also praised for his great use of visual aids and the energy in his delivery.

The YGN and the NI would like to thank the contenders, the judges, Burges Salmon LLP, and of course the audience for making this year's event another great success.