3 December 2015

Nuclear instrumentation training inspires fellows to share their knowledge

Fellows in the training being introduced to new tools in electronics at the Seibersdorf  laboratories

Fellows in the training being introduced to new tools in electronics at the Seibersdorf laboratories

Nuclear technology impacts our lives in a large variety of fields, ranging from medicine, to agriculture, research and industry. While maintenance service and repair of nuclear instruments is crucial, it poses a challenge to many developing countries.

Adegoke Oluyemi Borisade is a technologist at the Centre for Energy, Research and Development at the Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. "Some Nuclear Instrumentation Modules and research equipment in our Centre are down and need repairs," he explained. Borisade and eleven other scientists from developing countries are currently participating in a three month-long fellowship with the IAEA Nuclear Science and Instrumentation Laboratory in Seibersdorf, Austria. The fellowship training enables them to operate and perform refurbishing, maintenance and repairs services on nuclear and related instruments in their home institutions. As Borisade explained: "I learnt how to design interface cards which will allow me to revive some equipment that are down and build useful customized handheld instruments for our laboratories."

The fellows are also getting to know a set of tools that can replace analogue measuring instruments with digitized versions, such as LabVIEW, a graphical programming platform used for data acquisition and automated test systems. "LabVIEW enables design of Data-logging and Supervisory Control human machine interfaces for any type of instrument. For certain tasks, there is no need to go into the physical design of electronic module from scratch, once you have the appropriate Ni-DaQ module you can easily acquire data and do the required processing with already designed libraries of virtual instruments," explained Borisade.

Noureddine Koudiah is another fellow in the training. He works as an engineer at the Nuclear Research Center of Birine in Algeria. LabVIEW and Eagle, a tool to design printed circuit boards, are useful tools he is learning about as part of the fellowship. "These tools help me to improve the control systems for operating equipment such as heat treating ovens. With the knowledge I acquire here, I will also be able to develop an automated system for the Secondary Standard Dosimetry Laboratory. At the moment, it is being operated manually."

The Seibersdorf laboratory has a longstanding history in supporting institutions in developing countries by giving fellows the opportunity to develop adequate technical knowledge and practical skills in electronics technology and instrumentation. Over 600 engineers, technicians and physicists have been trained in many subjects in the Nuclear Science and Instrumentation laboratory since the early 1980s. "Institutions in developing countries often lack the resources to provide proper training. In addition, they are working with outdated equipment," said Yacouba Diawara, laboratory head and in charge of the fellowship.

Trained personnel also play a key role in capacity building: Fellows share their knowledge and experience to peers, colleagues, students and other institutions when they return to their home countries. Both Koudiah and Borisade strongly believe that this training will assist them in improving and updating professional skills of local experts through presentations and workshops on these new topics. "It is said: A poor teacher teaches. An average teacher educates, but a good teacher inspires. The training at the IAEA and the teaching style of the instructors have inspired me to spread my knowledge to my colleagues and peers," Borisade stated.

Noureddine Koudiah
Adegoke Oluyemi Borisade