My career and the Nuclear Industry: A short memoir
Blog 1st November 2017
Author: Richard Taylor, BNFL chair in Nuclear Energy Systems, Dalton Nuclear Institute, The University of Manchester
Our Nuclear Industry has defined my working life. For over thirty years it has been my constant companion. We have matured together, becoming comfortable in each other’s company and learning to tolerate each other’s faults and frailties. My experience has caused me to see the power of ‘special’ material as a beguiling prize to be tamed and wrestled into obedience, respected but not feared. However that’s just me. In this respect I am an outlier, an anomaly within the wider society that sustains me.
I am experiencing a similar feeling of dislocation as I begin my academic career at Manchester after three decades working in Industry. The creative freedom that the University encourages; to discover new insights and make them relevant to the world around us, is a rare privilege that I have found genuinely and, perhaps unexpectedly, exhilarating. Of course, this brings with it a personal challenge to integrate myself into a culture that accepts such things as the norm, but this is what I signed up for.
My relationship with the nuclear industry is a complex one. It is more than an accumulation of understanding, it is driven by an emotional investment that I accept could cloud my judgement and reveal itself as prejudice. Naturally my values are in play as well; a personal, moral compass that drives my attitude to anything and that goes well beyond the mere prosaic facts of the matter. In these latter respects I am not unique or unusual, these factors drive all of us and an understanding of how they emerge as individual or communal attitudes seems to me a worthwhile and important thing to attempt to fathom. I recognise that such exploration is not my element. However, there are brilliant people at the University who can do this, and I aspire to work with them if they’ll have me. Enriching any insight with context and practical relevance is perhaps where I might step into the light.
So, that’s it. I’m not at the University as an advocate of a nuclear future. That is not my purpose. I am here to promote understanding of what drives our attitudes to this industry and to make that knowledge useful. For me, that is what matters.
If you would like to respond to these issues in any way (even to tell me I’m talking rubbish!), then please get in touch.
This post was originally published on The University of Manchester’s Science and Engineering Hub.
About Richard Taylor
Richard is BNFL chair in Nuclear Energy Systems at The University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute. He was previously the Chief Engineer of the UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory. Richard is a co-founder of The Beam nuclear and social science network. Read more.