FIVE South African students have returned from a trip of a lifetime in Russia where they learned about study opportunities offered to foreigners in the field of nuclear science in the Russian Federation.
North-West University masters’ students Naomi Mokhine, Koketso Kgorinyane and Veronica Gouws and University of Limpopo graduates Harriet Mphaho and Thabo Mametja were selected to tour Russia after successful entries into the “Atoms Empowering Africa” youth video competition sponsored by Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom.
The five joined 11 students from across Africa for the unique opportunity to learn about educational programs available for foreign students. In addition, the guests visited top Russian universities specializing in nuclear engineering including the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Obninsk, Central Russia and Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Tomsk, Siberia.
“Everything we did this year was amazing,” said Kgorinyane. “We had an opportunity to visit a nuclear power plant. What we have learnt about plant changed my perception and showed me that it is not a danger to us. Nuclear is a clear benefit for our continent, and if we take part in the nuclear industry we can generate more energy.”
More than 30 students from Sub-Saharan Africa took part in the contest, run in cooperation with African Young Generation in Nuclear, the SA Institute of Electrical Engineers and the SA Network for Nuclear Education Science and Technology. Under the theme “Atoms Empowering Africa”, students had to post a two-minute video about peaceful atoms. The aim was to encourage young people between the ages of 18 to 30 to research various nuclear applications and the benefits they might have for the continent.
Mphaho said the trip did much to open her eyes about the technological advantages nuclear energy could provide Africa. “We learnt a lot about how nuclear can be beneficial in many spheres such as agriculture and medicine, and with the production of the electricity,” she said. “I personally was not aware of the full spectrum of nuclear energy applications.”
MEPhI is the leading Russian university with more than 75 years’ expertise in nuclear engineering. MEPhI is the key partner of Rosatom in the field of training high-qualified nuclear specialists. Today more than 1500 foreign students from 57 countries study there, including over 50 students from sub-Saharan Africa, including South Africa.
TPU is one of the leading state universities which specializes in the training of specialists in the nuclear field along with training of professors for universities in Rosatom partner countries. In over 60 years, more than 12 000 specialists graduated TPU, including 8 000 trained in nuclear engineering and research. It is the only Russian university equipped with a nuclear research reactor, which is now used for peaceful atom technologies such as nuclear medicine, transmutation neutron alloying, isotope engineering among others.
The African delegation visited the first ever nuclear power plant in the world, which was operational from 1954 till 2002, and which now functions as a memorial complex. It is located in the city of Obninsk, 100 km south-west from Moscow, and includes the first nuclear reactor with the capacity of 5MW as well as the museum of history of the nuclear industry. The delegation also visited Tomsk Atomic Energy Information Center set up in 2008 with the purpose of promoting nuclear science and technologies as well as education. During the cultural aspect of the program guests were acquainted with the history of Russia including its gastronomical traditions.
“The trip to Russia was very good. I loved the people, I loved the food, I loved atmosphere, even the weather,” said Gouws. “The time I enjoyed the most was when we were learning about Russian chess and of course I’ve learnt a lot about atomic energy.”
Full scholarships are available for students interested in studying nuclear energy in Russia and include tuition fees; free preparatory courses of Russian language (if necessary); monthly stipend; accommodation; library access and practical experience based at Rosatom enterprises. For more information visit and register on www.russia.study and fill in an application form. The deadline for the first round of applications closes on 15 February 2019.