Structural Mechanics in Reactor Technology (SMiRT) conferences have a strong history of contributions to the state of practice in the nuclear industry worldwide. The joint US-Canada conference returns to the North American continent after six years to a city that has established itself as the energy capital of the United States with strong leadership from the nuclear industry.
The industry is seeking innovation in four broad areas of the profession: (i) Development and Licensing of Advanced and Small Modular Reactors (SMR), (ii) Subsequent License Renewal and Life Extension, (iii) Managing the Construction Cost and Schedules for New Builds, and (iv) Decommissioning.
Innovation is needed in all areas of design, analysis, licensing, advanced manufacturing, construction, supply chain, and operations & maintenance. Technologies such as those based on advanced simulations and artificial intelligence are quite promising. There is already a lot of piecemeal development in this regard. Yet, we need to think in terms of an integrated approach that can be leveraged throughout a plant’s life cycle. Integration will also be needed across traditional disciplines. Such an integrated approach to innovation can help with economic sustainability, enhanced safety, improved regulatory compliance, and public acceptance. Two important aspects of such a future also lie in enhanced international collaboration particularly for the global supply chain and educating the next generation of work force in technologies of the future.
We have shaped the technical program for SMiRT 25 to serve as a forum for germinating, communicating, and advancing, the scientific and technological innovations. Strong international participation is expected to foster opportunities of global partnerships. In addition, a few different activities are planned for Early Career Professionals with an intent to help mentor and educate the next generation of work force. We are thankful to experts who have committed to participating in workshops and tutorials meant to provide these learning opportunities. Special events are planned to honor and celebrate the contributions of late Dr. Robert Kennedy. A new Best Paper Kennedy Award has been instituted at SMiRT 25 and continued in future conferences with support from the American Association of SMiRT. This is in addition to the traditional Shibata Award for Early Career Professionals. Leaders, managers, and engineers from around the world will come together to continue the SMiRT tradition of driving innovation and education for safe, reliable, and efficient nuclear energy.
Chairman, SMiRT 25
Professor of Structural Engineering, NC State University