Newsletter January 2015

In this newsletter:

Registrations for the new BNEN programme are now open

chalkboardThe master-after-master in nuclear engineering organised by the Belgian Nuclear higher Education Network (BNEN) is a one-year 60 ECTS programme that combines the nuclear expertise of six Belgian universities and SCK•CEN. 

Registrations for the academic year 2015-2016 are now open and the application procedure can be consulted on the BNEN website. International applications are accepted until March 31 2015. For Belgian students the application deadline is May 31, 2015.

The BNEN program was created in 2002 in close collaboration with representatives of academia, research centres, industry and other nuclear stakeholders. Due to its modular programme, BNEN is accessible for full-time students (mainly young engineering graduates) as well as young professionals already employed in the nuclear industry. The programme is in English to facilitate the participation of international students. Each BNEN module is also available as a part of a continuous professional development programme for professionals working in the nuclear industry. 

Skills development using the SCK•CEN research infrastructure

classroom_sqr.pngOne important aspect of the BNEN programme is the fact that exercises and hands-on sessions in the specialised laboratories at SCK•CEN complement the theoretical classes, thereby bringing the students into contact with all facets of nuclear energy. Several SCK•CEN researchers provide valuable contributions to the programme through seminars and practical exercises. Based on their daily practices and responsibilities they can give an expert view on the subjects being taught.

After more than a decade of successful operation and continuous improvements, BNEN has progressively become a major actor on the Belgian and European nuclear educational scene.  Every year it delivers a new class of highly-educated nuclear engineers, ready to ensure the safe operation of current and future nuclear power plants, research infrastructures, waste treatment and disposal facilities

New BNEN programme

In 2012, in the framework of an official accreditation process, all aspects of the BNEN programme were audited by an international visitation panel. The most important outcome of this process was a reform of the academic programme, which was implemented in the academic year 2014-2015.  The new BNEN programme offers more elective courses to the students, thereby broadening the objectives. 


In 2014 the SCK•CEN Academy received 90 applications from students interested in performing their PhD research in one of our centre's priority nuclear R&D domains . After evaluation by the members of SCK•CEN's Scientific Council 26 candidates were invited to convince a jury of their competence and motivation to start a four-year research project.  Finally, 15 have embarked on the preparation of their PhD thesis.

The following research projects were started as PhD theses in the academic year 2014-2015:

Last name First name Topic SCK•CEN mentor University promoter University
Bakaeva Anastasiia Correlation between microstructure and retention in candidate materials for the first wall Terentyev Dmitry Noterdaeme Jean-Marie UGent
Charalampopoulou Evangelia Transmission electron microscopy study on the liquid metal corrosion mechanisms of the 1.4970 austenitic stainless steel fuel cladding for MYRRHA Delville Rémi Schryvers Dominique UA
Craenen Kai Effect of radiation on neural tube closure and related congenital abnormalities Benotmane Rafi Moons Lieve KUL
De Meutter Pieter Uncertainty quantification in long range lagrangian atmospheric transport and dispersion modelling Camps Johan Termonia Piet UGent
Greco Matteo Study of low Prandtl number heat transfer in the E-SCAPE liquid-metal pool facility Van Tichelen Katrien Kleijn Chris TUDelft
Konings Katrien Impact of different radiation qualities on molecular and functional changes in cancer cells: role of Hedgehog signaling Moreels Marjan Haustermans Karin KUL
Latré Edwin Contextual variation in crisis-induced changes in public opinion and nuclear policies: the case of the Fukushima accident Perko Tanja Thijssen Peter UA
Luyten Jakob Radiation-resistant ionic liquids for extraction of minor actinides Cardinaels Thomas Binnemans Koen KUL
Moortgat Céline Search for a sterile neutrino using a short-baseline oscillation experiment at the BR2 research reactor Koonen Edgar Rykbosch Dirk UGent
Props Ruben Microbial community fingerprinting to predict pathogen outgrowth in engineered aquatic systems Monsieurs Pieter Boon Nico UGent
Puype Athina Development of improved ferritic/martensitic creep-resistant steels for nuclear energy Malerba Lorenzo Roumen Petrov UGent
Rodríguez Pérez Sunay A simulation framework to balance radiation induced risk against image quality in radiology Struelens Lara Bosmans Hilde KUL
Stalmans Karen Myocardial dysfunction after breast cancer radiation therapy: Strain rate imaging analysis and study of the underlying molecular and cellular mechanisms Aerts An Weltens Caroline KUL
Toti Antonio Development and validation of a computational approach to simulate 3D phenomena occuring in the MYRRHA REACTOR DURING Loss of Flow transients Belloni Francesco Vierendeels Jan UGent

labosSCK•CEN has supported PhD candidates and post-doc researchers since 1992. Post-docs are employed by SCK•CEN for a period of, typically, two years. PhD students are employed by the university but are based in Mol to perform their research in SCK•CEN’s laboratories. Presently, about 65 PhD students from numerous countries prepare their theses on our premises. They are offered the best of both worlds: they stay in close contact with the academic world and they enjoy a unique international research environment with advanced nuclear experimental facilities and top-level guidance from our experts.

More information about the new topics available and the application procedure can be found on the SCK•CEN Academy website. Applications should reach us before March 27, 2015.

SCK•CEN selected by ESA for a "Food from Spirulina" event and an in-flight call with ISS

bioreactorESA, the European Space Agency, is offering secondary schools in Europe the opportunity to perform a classroom experiment on the Spirulina bacteria using educational kits that have been assembled in cooperation with SCK•CEN. In this experiment Spirulina’s ability to recycle CO2 into O2 will be investigated.

In April 2015 ESA will organize an in-flight call with astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti in the International Space Station. On this occasion school pupils will have the opportunity to ask questions about the experiment. SCK•CEN, in collaboration with ESERO Belgium, was selected by ESA as one of the 3 European locations to organise a "Food from Spirulina" Event, with a live connection to the ISS. A contest was launched for all Belgian secondary schools to perform the experiment and participate in the event. Schools can register to take part in this contest via

microbiology.pngOn a daily basis, an astronaut uses about 1 kg oxygen, 1 kg food, 3 kg drinking water and 15 kg water for personal hygiene. The waste produced also consists mainly of water. For long space flights, such as to the planet Mars, the journey and residence time would be 2,5 to 3 years. In such cases, it is impossible to take the necessary quantity of water and food, and to store all the waste. For this reason, SCK•CEN works together with the European Space Agency (ESA) and other European partners to develop biological solutions in order to recycle water and to produce food and oxygen.

The MELiSSA (Micro-Ecological Life Support System Alternative) project is a high-technology biological waste recycling system for space missions, where different bacteria, such as the cyanobacteria Arthrospira or Spirulina, play an important role.

ESA is offering 50 secondary schools in Belgium the opportunity to perform a classroom experiment with the spirulina bacteria using educational kits which have been assembled in cooperation with SCK•CEN.
SCK•CEN, in collaboration with ESERO Belgium, has been selected by ESA to be one of the three European locations to organise a "Food from Spirulina" event, during which a live connection to the ISS will be established. A contest was launched for all Belgian secondary schools to perform the experiment and to take part in the event. More information is available via


The SCK•CEN Academy implements European policy on E&T concepts in its courses

salon2The SCK•CEN Academy designs its Education & Training (E&T) programmes taking into account the European educational policy for 2020 which focuses on mobility, transparency and life-long learning (amongst others). Through its participation in national and international projects, networks and working groups, the SCK•CEN Academy contributes to the development of concepts that will lead to better collaboration on E&T matters. 

International mobility of students and professionals is becoming more and more common in a world of dynamic markets. To facilitate this mobility and to promote life-long learning in the EU, a coherent and transparent approach in E&T development needs to be agreed between all stakeholders. Presently, too many qualification systems and training programmes are described in different ways, making it very difficult to transfer and recognise learning activities between them. The partners in any mobility project need to agree on a common language and terminology regarding the contents and objectives of the project. In this respect, several frameworks exist that
can help to achieve this goal. 

The SCK•CEN Academy is making the transition towards ECVET, by linking the appropriate EQF level to its training programmes and describing them in terms of learning outcomes.

European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and learning outcomes

ECVET_finalThe EQF has been designed to create transparency of qualification systems across EU Member States. It consists of 8 reference EQF levels that can be linked to the national qualifications. This system is applicable to any type of education, training or qualification. Proper use of EQF should promote mobility of students and professionals between Member States. The real strength of EQF lies in the fact that learning outcomes are used to describe the qualification levels. 
Learning outcomes are statements of what a learner knows, understands and is able to do as a result of learning. Learning outcomes are described in terms of Knowledge, Skills and Competences. They can be characterised by the use of active verbs to describe them (Bloom Taxonomy).  Describing training courses in terms of learning outcomes is an essential step in creating transparent qualifications. 

European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET)

Mobility in the traditional education system is governed through the well-known ECTS system (European Credit Transfer System). Such a system does not yet exist for vocational education and training (VET). In order to ensure recognition of competences achieved through, for example, formal training programmes in industry, a comparable system needs to be agreed upon for VET. This is where ECVET comes into play. 

ECVET was designed as a European system for the transfer, recognition and accumulation of learning outcomes with the aim of obtaining a qualification.  In the ECVET system, those learning outcomes which a learner is expected to achieve through any type of learning activity are agreed upon by the different partners and documented in formal transcripts. By doing this, the learning outcomes become visible and can be compiled in a document such as the Europass. 

ECVET is still in a test phase. Already more than 300 ECVET pilot projects have been run, most of them in the aeronautical, agricultural and commercial sectors for low EQF levels. The nuclear sector is doing pioneering work towards the implementation of ECVET for higher EQF levels. 


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