IN a bid to develop skilled professionals and help the Philippines to integrate into nuclear energy, the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) on Monday launched the Filipino Scholars and Interns on Nuclear Engineering (FISSION) program.
During the opening day of the 3-day Giga Summit organized by Meralco Power Academy (MPA), Meralco Chairman and CEO Manuel V. Pangilinan announced that the company will invest in local talents and support aspiring Filipino nuclear engineers to help accelerate the development of the country’s technical and regulatory talent pipeline through education and training in the highly specialized field of nuclear engineering.
“Meralco will send some of our engineers to a two-year graduate program targeting local talents who are graduates and practicing Mechanical, Electrical, Material Engineering, and related areas in universities in the US, in Canada, Korea, Japan and France,” Pangilinan said.
Part of FISSION’s objectives is to address identified gaps that could impede the government’s transformative initiatives, such as the absence of expert safety regulators and technical professionals capable of operating nuclear technologies, specifically the small modular reactors (SMR) and micro modular reactors (MMR).
Scheduled to run from 2025 to 2027, this two-year graduate program will be offered to graduates and practitioners in the fields of Mechanical, Electrical, Materials, and Metallurgical Engineering, Physics, and other related disciplines.
Meralco is eyeing top global engineering universities, including the University of California in Berkeley, the University of Illinois, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and Université Paris–Saclay, for the program.
FISSION will also include a one-year immersion and internship from 2027 to 2028 at partner SMR facilities abroad like Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corporation (USNC), both of which are participating in the ongoing Giga Summit.
Upon completion of the graduate and internship programs, Meralco will implement a Re-entry Action Plan to facilitate the scholars’ return to the Philippines in 2029. The scholars are expected to render their expertise to the company and to the Philippine government.
The application process for the pilot batch of the program will open in 2024. Meralco will announce the qualifications and other details of the program in the coming months.
As one of the country’s major players in the energy industry, Meralco has been proactively preparing for the introduction of nuclear technologies in the Philippines
In March 2023, the company expressed its readiness to provide scholarships to help the country develop local nuclear energy experts.
Mr. Pangilinan underscored the importance of establishing a regulatory framework and cultivating a pool of skilled professionals to lead the adoption and advancement of nuclear energy in the Philippines.
“Hopefully, this is the start of exploring and seriously considering new options for this country to achieve a smarter and greener future,” Mr. Pangilinan concluded.
Through the MPA, Meralco will play a pivotal role in supporting these initiatives and forging partnerships with relevant government agencies, including the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission, the academe, and private sector partners to collectively shape a sustainable energy future for our nation.