UNSW launches Nuclear Innovation Centre with $7.5M donation from Tyree Foundation

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Image credit: UNSW Sydney

The University of New South Wales has inaugurated the UNSW Nuclear Innovation Centre (UNIC), made possible by a $7.5 million donation from the Sir William Tyree Foundation, aimed at fostering research, scholarships, and academic positions in nuclear engineering.

Officially opened by Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Pat Conroy, the UNIC represents a crucial moment for nuclear science in Australia, with a commitment to driving growth and innovation in the field, the university said in a news release.

Minister Conroy emphasised the importance of the initiative, stating, “This is a fantastic initiative that will bring together experts from different disciplines to collaborate and innovate.”

He added, “Australia has a long and proud history of excellence in nuclear science and technology, and UNSW has led the way.”

The UNIC, situated at UNSW’s Kensington campus, is envisioned as a cross-disciplinary and cross-industry hub, bringing together academics from UNSW and research partners such as the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO), the University of Sydney, and the University of Wollongong.

Its mission is to cultivate a skilled workforce and future leaders to propel Australia towards a competitive and prosperous nuclear technology industry.

Associate Professor Edward Obbard, director of the UNIC, expressed his team’s dedication to advancing Australia’s nuclear technology for global impact.

“We are growing a nuclear workforce in Australia grounded in academic excellence, diversity, and social inclusion.”

In particular, nuclear technology holds diverse applications ranging from clean electricity generation to nuclear medicine and space propulsion.

Additionally, it plays a crucial role in supporting initiatives like the federal government’s AUKUS submarine program, necessitating a skilled workforce in various nuclear-related fields.

Robbie Fennell, chair of the Sir William Tyree Foundation, underscored the foundation’s commitment to advancing nuclear education and research, building upon decades of philanthropic partnership with UNSW.

“Our gift to the UNSW Nuclear Innovation Centre builds on a decade of support for nuclear engineering that saw us help to establish Australia’s first Masters in Nuclear Engineering in 2014,” Fennell remarked.

He concluded, “Sir William believed Australia must capitalise on nuclear technologies, and I’m sure he’d be proud of our role in progressing nuclear education and research that will develop the technologies and skills for all possible nuclear futures.”