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Innovating to Deliver the Nuclear Promise

The following was written by Maya Chandrashekhar, project manager for Nuclear Steam Supply Systems Engineering at AREVA Inc, for the Powered by Our People promotion. She has been with AREVA and the nuclear industry since 2007.
Maya Chandrashekhar

What you do and why you enjoy doing it?

As a project manager, my main goal is to help our customers solve their engineering problems expeditiously, economically and in the safest manner. I work with AREVA’s engineering, procurement and operations teams, customers’ engineering teams, our suppliers and partners. The synergies and teamwork evolving on these projects are always unique and it is wonderful to see different parties from different companies and different countries work in unison towards fulfilling the nuclear promise. I enjoy the partnerships, collaboration, the unpredictable day to day challenges and anecdotal stories each of these projects bring with them.

What is your vision for the future of nuclear in America? 

The demand for energy in the United States and worldwide is ever increasing and with it is increasing the challenge of having an environmentally friendly, low-carbon energy option. Nuclear is a reliable energy source for providing baseload power “when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow.” Nuclear is a strong contributor in the environmentally friendly energy mix and should remain there in the future. 

The United States has a robust regulatory field of experience and should be a steward in helping other countries establish a strong regulatory and safety nuclear culture across the world. 

We need increased R&D spending to attract younger generations of engineers and innovators to make and keep nuclear safer, economical and viable in the eco-friendly energy mix of the future. We have to lead the world in innovation of new generation nuclear technologies and modernization of the current fleet of operating plants.

Share your favorite story of nuclear advocacy. 

At AREVA, we sponsor a lot of STEM related activities in local schools and community and take the opportunity to educate our communities about nuclear power. I love going to classrooms and talking to students and teachers about nuclear power. It never fails to amaze the teachers and students when I show them the graphic of how one small pellet of uranium, weighing about 7 grams, can generate as much energy as 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas or 1,780 pounds of coal.

It is surprising that most people don’t realize that nuclear power represents clean energy or connect the dot between carbon free energy and nuclear. Some of the first things that come to peoples’ mind when they think nuclear are Fukushima or Chernobyl or nuclear waste. We find that people are always surprised that they know so little of the good aspects of nuclear power!  

How are you bringing innovation into the nuclear energy industry?

In the area of project management I follow earned value management techniques to ensure our projects finish on time, under budget and safely. I use integrated planning and scheduling between the different AREVA disciplines, customers, and suppliers to manage the project as a whole to ensure on time delivery. 

What does Delivering the Nuclear Promise mean to you? 

Delivering the Nuclear Promise is everything we can do today to ensure that nuclear power has a place in the foreseeable future as a reliable energy source. In my work, I constantly challenge myself and my teams to think differently to optimize our solutions and bring efficiencies. 

In the current market, the Nuclear Promise is to make our operating fleet efficient and economical to continue to be the safest and reliable producers of electricity. AREVA’s global award winning innovation in the area of Alloy 600 mitigation using Cavitation Peening technology is a very good example of how AREVA supports the Nuclear Promise. This break-through innovation gives utilities a viable option of mitigation without having to exercise cost prohibitive options of repair or replacement of aging components. It demonstrates our commitment to innovating solutions that help our customers deliver on the nuclear promise.

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