Nuclear institute education fund allows Bruce County youth to innovate



By Barb McKay


A new education fund through the Ontario Nuclear Innovation Institute will provide unique learning opportunities for students in the Bruce, Grey and Huron region.


Bruce Power and the County of Bruce announced the creation of the local education development fund during the third annual Economic Development and Innovation Summit held at Bruce Power on Friday. Bruce Power President and CEO Mike Rencheck said the company will provide $100,000 in 2019 to enhance local education, with a focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, as wells as environmental and Indigenous cultural awareness. A total of $400,000 will be available through 2024 through fundraising efforts and strategic partnerships.


“We look long term at Grey, Bruce and Huron counties,” Rencheck said. “We’ve had so many young people who have had to move out of the area to find their dreams and aspirations, to have a career and raise their families. We think those folks can participate in our Nuclear Innovation Centre and be able to develop those skills and those career paths right here at home.


“With the fund, it is to start introducing technologies that society sees are advancing so rapidly into their vernacular so as they are growing up they become accustomed to it and they can go out and learn those technical things and come back and apply them right here at Bruce Power.”


The institute will begin accepting formal applications for funding early in 2019. Preference will be given to projects connected to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), the environment and Indigenous cultural awareness. Projects may be carried out in school settings and at the institute itself. The institute promotes opportunities for skilled trades, as Bruce Power and companies in its supply chain will need qualified workers in skilled trades to carry out the Major Component Replacement Project and Life Extension Program.


Rencheck said the institute will provide young people with educational and career opportunities close to home.


“In a rural community, to be able to offer these types of experiences is profound and only the kids in larger urban centres will see these types of technologies over the years. To be a first mover in this area and to be able to offer it in rural Ontario is quite unique.”


The Ontario Nuclear Innovation Institute, a joint venture between Bruce Power and Bruce County and currently in the early stages of development, is intended to be a global centre of excellence with applied research and technology innovation focusing on enhanced education, artificial intelligence and digital technology, health and medical isotopes, environment and global warming, operational excellence, economic development, skilled trades and training.


Rencheck said the possibilities are endless. Projects could include innovations for new reactors.


“Bruce Power always looks at technologies. We are participating with NRCAN (Natural Resources Canada) with a small modular reactor roadmap and we are participating with a number of companies to understand their technologies to be able to study and see what’s happening. It would be these types of aspects that we would bring into the institute so we could learn more about the technologies and how they are advancing.


“With some of the technologies that we are looking at, one could envision extending the life beyond 2064, but also could envision new opportunities, new businesses and new technologies spawning over the years.”