Written by Sena Dalak and Muruvet Kalay
As of August 2019, 450 nuclear power plants operate in 31 countries around the world, and construction of 52 nuclear power plants continues in 19 countries. Nuclear energy plays a significant role in the total energy supply worldwide with future energy demand and supply indicating a significant growth of nuclear electricity generation. With countries increasingly considering sustainable energy solutions for the development of society, economy, and environment, nuclear energy has become a viable option to benefit all three pillars. Turkey has had a long-standing dream of developing nuclear power since the 1960s, having venturing five different attempts with majority of Western companies including the Americans, Canadians, French, German and Japanese. Efforts with Russia has resulted in any tangible progress in actuating these dreams. In recent years, Turkey has taken the leap towards establishing nuclear power generation, with construction beginning on the country’s first power plant, at Akkuyu, in April 2018 and with an expected timeline for the first unit to come online in 2023. Since nuclear energy is of importance for clean power generation, Turkey plans to benefit from nuclear technology in the areas of health, industry, transportation, communication and aerospace. Quality management of human resources related to nuclear energy in plant operations, related public establishments and universities in Turkey have been vastly improved, as well as enhancing technological experience about civil nuclear technology and various other fields. Specifically, for these improvements, Akkuyu Nükleer A.Ş. provides education on undergraduate and graduate level and professional specialist training in nuclear power plants of Russia for Turkish students. It is planned that 600 Turkish students will be sent to Russia for this purpose. Additionally, the Turkish government provides a scholarship program to award students the opportunity to study abroad in various areas related to nuclear energy.
Sena Dalak was awarded the opportunity by to study nuclear energy abroad by the Turkish government. Sena was granted the opportunity to choose to complete her studies in either the U.S., Canada, France or Germany, however, her final choice was to study in the U.S. at Texas A&M University due to (1) Texas A&M’s presence as the largest nuclear department in the country, and (2) the wide variety of resources and opportunities given by Texas A&M and its Nuclear Engineering Department due to the experience and expertise of the staff. Upon completion of a Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering with an emphasis on transportation of radioactive material, it is expected Sena will play a role in the nuclear industry by representing the Turkey Nuclear Regulatory Authority.
Sena Dalak graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Energy Engineering from Hacettepe University in 2017. Hacettepe University hosts Turkey’s only collegiate nuclear program, accepting only 40 students annually and conducting the entirety of their nuclear courses in English. In Sena’s undergraduate tenure, she took an active role in the local energy association where she was able to discuss different areas of the nuclear field with other students. In addition, she participated in several internships in different nuclear areas, such as a nuclear research hospital, which sparked her interest in radiation. These experiences encouraged Sena to take additional radiation classes and expand knowledge in the field, ultimately aiding in the decision to choose radiation transport as the primary area of interest for her higher education. Currently, Sena Dalak is a Master’s student in the Center for Nuclear Security Science and Policy Initiatives (NSSPI) at Texas A&M University under the advisement of Dr. Shaheen Azim Dewji. Sena’s research will involve source term estimation and consequence evaluation from incidents involving accidents or sabotage during transportation of radioactive material. In this research, deficiencies will be examined in current radioactive material transportation guidance with the use of tools such as RADTRAN/RADTRAD/RASCAL, with international guidance given by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Muruvet Kalay is a Master’s student whose research focuses on the assessment of radiation detection efficiency from environmental degradation of plastic scintillator detectors employed at international border crossings. Her work specifically is to investigate the synthesis of robust nanocomposite materials to enhance the longevity of field deployed portal monitors while optimizing radiation detection efficiency to detect smuggled nuclear or radiological material. Kalay, whose educational background in in Physics, wanted to continue her education in nuclear field, because she wants to contribute to her country as part of its activities in the nuclear field in Turkey. Kalay chose to study in health physics in Texas A&M University, and as a student in NSSPI under Dr. Dewji, given the breadth of excellent opportunities and rigorous educational program. Kalay’s work is co-advised by Dr. Pasquale Fulvio jointly between the Nuclear Engineering and Material Science and Engineering departments. Kalay adds: “Owing to the fact that the USA is the ideal place to pursue an education considering its policies in higher education and quality of assessment, I am strongly determined to reach my goals and be successful. I strongly believe that I will gain significant experiences by studying at Texas A&M University and is an honor to pursue my goals in Texas A&M University and embrace the Aggie experience”. GigEm!