Nuclear Networking, Never Been Better

June 10, 2011

The following is a guest post by a member of North American – Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN) about its annual professional development meet-up, this year in Niagara Falls as part of the 32nd CNS conference. Thank you for contributing to!


North American – Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN) hosted its annual professional development (PD) seminar on Sunday, June 5, 2011 as part of the 32nd annual Canadian Nuclear Society (CNS) conference at the Sheraton on the Falls hotel in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Similar to past PD seminars organized by NA-YGN, this event, themed “Nuclear Knowledge and Leadership,” was a huge success as it was attended by 65 enthusiastic members from the 6 Canadian chapters of NA-YGN.

After a warm welcome by Chris Waugh, NA-YGN Canadian Regional Lead, the attendees enjoyed a fun filled ice-breaker session to encourage networking. The session consisted of wearing Burger King crowns and playing the “headbands” icebreaker game where participants had to ask each other yes or no questions to guess the picture attached to their crown. Each picture was related to the nuclear industry. This exciting ice-breaker was well facilitated by Natalie Sachar and the team from the AECL Chalk River chapter.

The seminar then continued with a very tasty lunch sponsored by Cameco Corporation, with a lunch menu consisting of pastas, salads and desserts. Thanks goes out to Cameco and the excellent service by Sheraton on the Falls staff.

Full from the delicious lunch, the attendees gathered back in the seminar room where they witnessed a humorous and interesting presentation by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock, Research Physicist, AECL Chalk River and the author of the website Canadian nuclear facts and frequently answered questions were discussed in addition to some tips on how to best communicate with our friends, family and general public about the nuclear industry. He finished off by touching on the unfortunate events at the Fukushima – Daiichi site in Japan and how we as young professionals can ensure the industry learns from this event. One fun fact that we learned is that the CANDU (Canadian Deuterium Uranium) reactor is considered one of top 10 Canadian inventions of the last century. This excellent presentation was facilitated by Shaun Saldanha, chapter lead for the AMEC NSS chapter.

An innovative approach to professional development was taken by Gwen Rousseau, Process Engineering Manager at AECL Mississauga. She gave a presentation entitled “The People Puzzle.” The session focused on identification of personalities and how our personalities affect our interaction with others. The success of the session was through Gwen’s rapport with seminar attendees and the way she engaged with the audience from start to finish. At the end of the session, we heard positive feedback from the audience as to how the session helped them to enhance their leadership skills. This interactive session was facilitated by Mukul Shekhar, chapter lead for the AECL Mississauga chapter.

After enjoying a short coffee break to allow for further networking, seminar attendees witnessed a four person panel discuss the topic of “MBA vs. M.Eng: What’s the Value Proposition”. This panel was hosted by the following Durham chapter members: Shehab (Sunny) G. Mustafa, M. Eng. P. Eng.; Mayur Upadhyay, MBA P. Eng.; Arin Gharakhanian, E.I.T. M. Eng.; and Zeeshaan Mustafa, MBA, P. Eng. These engaging members spoke about their personal experiences of completing the University Network of Excellence in Nuclear Engineering (UNENE) M. Eng program and the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management MBA program. They shared useful insights on how it has benefited them in preparing for the future and how their confidence level has boosted since. A detailed description of what the programs have to offer was also provided. The scholars left the audience with a key message – graduate degrees are very rewarding but make sure to find the right school, the right program and make sure to be doing it for the right reasons! This session was facilitated by Sineaid Lagan, chapter lead for the Durham chapter.

The final insightful presentation was entitled “Sustainable Development – A Uranium Mining Perspective” and was facilitated and delivered by Dara Hrytzak-Lieffers, Corporate Social Responsibility manager at Cameco Corporation and the chapter lead for the Cameco chapter. The audience was educated on the stakeholder engagement in Cameco’s decision- making process as well as key initiatives for ensuring a sustainable fuel source is continually being developed for the nuclear industry.

An introduction for the 2012 International Youth Nuclear Congress (IYNC) was presented by Bharath Nangia from the AMEC NSS chapter. The congress will be held in Charlotte, North Carolina from August 5-11, 2012, in conjunction with the NA-YGN annual professional development conference. This conference will discuss new approaches to communicating the benefits of nuclear power as part of a balanced energy mix while promoting further peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. There will be many young professionals attending from all over the world so networking is sure to happen! NA-YGN encourages its members to submit a paper for consideration by the IYNC team. Click for more information on the IYNC 2012.

The seminar concluded with a wonderful message by Duncan Robinson, NA-YGN’s President. He encouraged the young professionals in nuclear to continue participating in conferences and PD seminars sessions as a way of educating ourselves and developing our professional networks. He deeply appreciates the efforts that were made by the NA-YGN Canadian team and hopes to support similar PD seminars and other regional events in the future. He advocated for greater participation from members of the NA-YGN Canadian chapters in all aspects of NA-YGN, including running for a position on the Core executive
team, joining one of the various committees that NA-YGN offers or simply volunteering at the local chapter level.

This professional development seminar was a fabulous opportunity to learn new skills and meet new people. Thank you to the Canadian Nuclear Society and the many volunteers of NA-YGN for ensuring this event was a success!

For any questions about NA-YGN in Canada, please e-mail Christine John (Canadian Affairs Chair) and Chris Waugh (Canadian Regional Lead) at


Rahim Lakhani is a 4th year Honors Mechanical Engineering Student at the University of Waterloo and will be graduating in August 2011. He worked for Bruce Power as an intern, to facilitate the delivery of a portfolio of over 83 small construction projects ($2.3 million) while preserving the highest standards of nuclear safety. Rahim is currently researching on the design and safety of Generation IV nuclear reactors, especially the Super Critical Water Reactors at the University of Waterloo.

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