First-hand account from Boris Supiot, an engineer at AREVA
What is your background?I graduated from Grenoble INP - Phelma in 2004, having chosen nuclear physics as my specialism. My initial motivation was curiosity in the discipline, which deals with the infinitely small and seemed to defy common sense. One thing led to another, and although at first I had been drawn towards a career in science, I soon realised that industry could continue to sate my curiosity whilst also offering other attractions.
Would you encourage future engineers to work in this field?Of course I would! The various professions in the nuclear industry are exciting. There is something to suit everybody's taste: pondering problems, action, working overseas, etc. There is a great diversity of professions in the industry, and you can change tack during the course of your career, whether in neutronics, mechanics, civil engineering, IT, etc., and these changes are very rewarding. You can work on projects, if that is what you want to do, or move towards marketing or sales positions. And all this can be done in France or abroad.
Do you have a message for people who criticise the nuclear sector?
I would advise them to be clear about exactly who the enemy is. The nuclear sector helps to limit the problems of the greenhouse effect: for example, France produces 1 kWh for every 80g of CO2 that it discharges, whilst Germany discharges five times as much for the same amount of electricity. In economic terms, because the nuclear sector produces electricity at the lowest cost, it represents a real asset for our businesses and a great advantage for private individuals. The problem of waste, which is often emphasised, can be solved in various ways, and a great number of engineers are working on this very subject. In addition, in contrast to all forms of carbon energy (oil, etc.), nuclear waste is very heavily controlled. Since everything has been put in place to guarantee safety, the nuclear sector is an essential source of energy if we want to finally reconcile economic development and respect for the environment.
Date of update April 22, 2013