Office for Nuclear Regulation

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First ONR “Nucleargraduate” becomes inspector

16 December, 2019

The first ONR-sponsored ‘nucleargraduate’ to progress to full inspector status has joined our radiological protection team. Dr Adam Nichols was part of our first cohort of seven nucleargraduates in October 2014, having completed a PhD in Nuclear Physics at the University of York.

Nucleargraduates is a national scheme designed to attract engineers and scientists into the UK nuclear sector. ONR has now sponsored 34 graduates who have learnt how we deliver our vital regulatory role.

As part of the two-year programme, Adam was required to complete an eight-month secondment with ONR, his sponsor organisation, before completing further placements with external organisations.

Adam said: “My secondments – at International Nuclear Services Limited (INS) and TÜV SÜD Nuclear Technologies – along with my time with ONR’s Transport Group, provided a broad range of experience. I particularly enjoyed working as a shielding assessor, working to make radiological hospital suites safe in Sweden, as it helped to really build up my technical knowledge.”

After returning to ONR permanently as a Nuclear Associate in October 2016, Adam progressed to a specialist inspector role in our radiological protection team, taking on additional secondments with Sellafield and Wood plc to further develop his capabilities.

This exposure to industry helped Adam to build up valuable experience and was vital in securing Chartered Physicist status from the Institute of Physics in June 2018. Far from resting on his laurels, Adam is also working towards chartership with the Society for Radiological Protection.

He said: “The breadth of experience I’ve received through the nucleargraduates scheme has really supercharged my professional development and bolstered my technical competence. My achievements would not have been possible without the support of ONR and I’d particularly like to thank my CDM, mentor, professional lead and all those colleagues who have guided me through the process.

“I’m now looking forward to continuing my criticality and radiological protection work across ONR.”

Debbie Harrison-North, HR Head of People Services, said: “The nucleargraduates scheme has been a real success in terms of helping us to recruit the very brightest and best young talent.

“I’m delighted that Adam has progressed from the scheme to fully fledged inspector and wish him all the best in his career with ONR. His progression underlines how important the nucleargraduates scheme is in delivering real, long-lasting benefits for both ONR and the graduates themselves.”