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Insights Digital technology shaping the nuclear industry

As we confront a global energy crisis and the urgency of climate change, nuclear power emerges as a vital component of the solution. If you’re on a career journey breaking into the nuclear field, Canada is the place to be. Canada’s nuclear power, produced by our CANDU® reactors, ranks no. 6 in the world, with 15% of Canada's electricity coming from nuclear energy.

At AtkinsRéalis, a world-leading design, engineering and project management organization, you can explore the groundbreaking technologies that are revolutionizing the industry.

We connect people, data and technology to transform the world's infrastructure and energy systems. But exactly what advanced nuclear energy technologies are helping to shape the nuclear industry? 

To understand how innovations are driving transformative solutions within the nuclear industry, we turned to two seasoned professionals at AtkinsRéalis. 

We tapped into the extensive experience of Ronald Ha, Lead Electrical Engineer, who has dedicated nine years of his career to working on projects for Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in Ontario. 

We also had the privilege of speaking with Rob Jamieson, Digital Innovation Director, who shared some comments from his unique perspective on the importance of digital advancements in nuclear energy. 

Together, they offer valuable insights into the cutting-edge developments shaping the future of nuclear energy, and why you should work in the nuclear industry.

Hi Rob and Ronald! Tell us a bit about your experience with nuclear energy

Rob commented, “My experience with digital technologies has been very positive as there is an inherent desire to innovate within our company’s culture. 

Advances in digital technologies allow us to maximize our efficiency, improve quality, and gain better insights into our work.”

Ronald shares, “Before working for OPG, I spent 2 years working on projects for Altalink in Alberta. 

Over the past 11 years, I’ve worked on a vast array of activities including the design of Engineering packages in an EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) environment, coordinating and bringing to completion Ontario’s Darlington Unit 3 refurbishment and the complete design of Alberta’s High river to Okotoks 138kV/240kV Transmission lines.”

What technology in the nuclear industry have you worked with at AtkinsRéalis and where do you see it going?

Ronald told us, “I have been partially leading the effort in driving nuclear to adopt 360 photography adoption. 

AtkinsRéalis has had 3D imaging technology for years now, it can be expensive and is not an industrial norm but it’s exciting that we have this capability. 

This is where driving the adoption of 360 photography comes in, there are several off-the-shelf action cameras that have built-in 360 photography capabilities. It offers 90% of the advantages compared with a 3-D lidar SCAN but at a tiny fraction of the cost, specifically negligible costs.”

Rob added, “Emerging technologies like AI and immersive 3D using real-time gaming engines are just some of the things that will eventually become commonplace in our daily work.”

How has the implementation of digital technologies or processes at AtkinsRéalis improved project outcomes within the nuclear field?

Rob explained, “Using immersive tech like VR, for example, allows our engineers to walk through a plant that has not been built yet, or virtually tour a customer’s facility without receiving radiation dose. 

It’s exciting to help pave the way for the broader adoption of these technologies within Nuclear and witness the benefits they will bring.”

Ronald added, “Our experience of site visits has always shown, regardless of the engineer’s photography experience or how many photos they take of the site and equipment, that it's never enough, due to the extensive amount of detail needed. 

This is where 360 technology comes in, with a 360 photo, you can’t miss a thing, and it’s easily navigated by photographers of all levels.

We take training entirely out of the equation and achieve a result that contains 100% of everything that you might want to see standing at that one point. 

We have already had multiple success stories where additional walkdowns were not required because we could take a previous photo and see everything in all directions. This not only saves on the travel costs but is also better for the environment.”

What’s your favorite application of digital technology within the nuclear field?

Ronald shared, “I may be biased but it’s the 360 photography. It is such a simple, off-the-shelf tool that’s easy to use. It adds great value and can be implemented at a noticeable scale with negative technical impacts! I am proud to be driving the efforts for adoption of this technology.

What makes AtkinsRéalis different from other companies to work for?

Finally, Ronald tells us, “AtkinsRéalis has given me the opportunity to utilize and expand my engineering skills beyond my expectations.

I’ve found a lot of companies just focus on the administrative side of projects because many designs were legacy from 30-40 years ago. AtkinsRéalis is different; every project we’re designing and innovating something bespoke, the situation is never identical, it keeps you on your toes and gives you the chance to develop your engineering skills.”

Join AtkinsRéalis and help to engineer a sustainable energy future

At AtkinsRéalis, our teams working in the nuclear field lead at the intersection of science, technology, and human ingenuity. 

Do you want to be part of a future where we redefine our relationship with energy, the environment, and the world we leave for generations to come?

Join us as we uncover the remarkable potential of nuclear energy and its synergistic relationship with renewables, forming a sustainable foundation for tomorrow's energy landscape. Explore nuclear jobs at AtkinsRéalis.