The COVID-19 pandemic beginning in early 2020, not only had caused unprecedented challenges to health, food and economy, education sector had also been significantly affected. However, this did not refrain Universiti Teknologi Malaysia from ensuring the students to receive the high quality well deserved education. Due to collaborative efforts between the School of Chemical and Energy Engineering (SKT), Faculty of Engineering with National Nuclear Energy Agency Indonesia (BATAN) and Sekolah Tinggi Teknologi Nuklir (STTN) Yogyakarta, the Nuclear Reactor Remote Laboratory was conducted for the final year Nuclear Engineering students on 15th and 16th February 2021 via Zoom. This lab session aimed to expose the students to the real time operation of nuclear reactor and the research activities available in the facility. This was the first long distance learning program held internationally for nuclear reactor teaching and learning for UTM Nuclear Engineering Program.
The laboratory was conducted using Internet Reactor Laboratory (IRL) system developed by BATAN involving 27 final year students and 2 lecturers participated. Three experiments were conducted, streaming live from the Kartini reactor control room, Yogyakarta. Every experiment began with theoretical briefing by the teaching instructors. Students were given the opportunity to operate the reactor remotely and proposing the operating conditions with the assistance of Kartini reactor operators. Three major experiments were conducted during this session, which were Nuclear Reactor Operation, Control Rod Reactivity Measurement and Neutron flux measurement. These experiments allowed the students to experience the nuclear reactor operation as well as nuclear power calibration in real time. Experimental results were available online in the IRL website, where students could observe and were able to collect the data in real time.
The student’s representative, Mr. Yap Wee Kin concluded that this program was highly beneficial to the nuclear engineering students. He was grateful that they were able to experience the real operating procedure for a nuclear reactor as compared to the simulation procedure conducted in class. They appreciated the opportunity to be able to experience the experiments and even learning more through errors that happened during the experiments as well as properly collecting and recording the experimental data throughout the process. It was concluded that this session provided them with additional knowledge and bridging the theory learnt in class with the real nuclear reactor application.
The session had proved that the pandemic and geographical boundary were not the impossible obstacles for the students to continue their education in general, and to experience the nuclear reactor operating system in particular. UTM is looking forward to continuous collaboration with STTN and BATAN for teaching and learning as well as research network especially for UTM Nuclear Engineering Program.
By Dr. Nor Afifah Basri & Dr. Hasrinah Hasbullah, School of Chemical & Energy Engineering