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Making the Connections 2: Meet UKAEA and RACE

Continuing our series introducing the partners of the Connect R project, this instalment introduces Nick Sykes and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and the Remote Applications in Challenging Environments centre (RACE).

The UK Atomic Energy Authority was formed in 1954 when the British Government set up a new body to oversee the nation’s nuclear research programme. The institution’s role was to provide Britain’s atomic weapons deterrent and develop reactor technologies for the nuclear power stations of the future. The UKAEA’s modern mission is to lead on the commercial development of fusion power and related technology and to position the UK as a leader in sustainable nuclear energy. RACE was created in 2014.

What’s your role in the Connect-R project?

NS: The UKAEA and RACE are primarily focused on the impact of radiation on the Connect-R system, specifically on compatibility under radiation exposure which will damage/destroy many standard operational mechanisms. As with the other partners we also act in a consultancy capacity and share our experiences and learnings where relevant to wider project discussions.

What prior experience are you finding most relevant to the project?

NS: As organisations UKAEA and RACE are uniquely placed, being experienced in creating solutions for operations in extreme environments. We develop remote handling and robotic machines which are reliable, safe and cost effective and can perform even under the most arduous, dangerous and difficult conditions. This experience is clearly invaluable to the current objectives of the Connect-R project and the environmental stressors it must operate in.

Tell us a bit about what UKAEA and RACE are currently involved with outside Connect-R?

NS: We are currently working towards successful achievement of five main goals. These are: to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in fusion research & development, to enable economic growth and new high-tech jobs in UK industry, to grow the UK’s nuclear technology capability, to design the first fusion power plants and to develop our Harwell and Culham sites as recognised, thriving science and innovation centres. They’re ambitious aims but I’m proud to say we’re making steady progress with them.

You can find out more about the UKAEA and RACE by visiting: or on Twitter @UKAEAofficial and LinkedIn

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