Mar 14, 2019

Ep 139: Matthew Mairinger - Canadian Affairs Chair, NAYGN

Canadian Affairs Chair
North American Young Generation in Nuclear
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Show notes

1 - 01:08

Q: What is the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN)?

A: Matthew Mairinger is the Canadian Affairs Chair for the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN). NAYGN focuses on empowering and providing a forum for the new leaders in the nuclear industry, through professional development, community relations, outreach, and networking. Matthew Mairinger became interested in nuclear power during a research project in high school and pursued nuclear engineering at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. NAYGN sets up site visits to expose members to different steps of the nuclear process, such as mining and pellet manufacturing. One benefit of nuclear power in Canada is that the uranium dioxide pellets do not need to be enriched.

2 - 11:11

Q: When did you start to take on leadership roles?

A: Matthew Mairinger first became involved in the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) as a member, then became a chapter vice-president and now serves as the Canadian Affairs Chair for the continental group. NAYGN has 120 chapters, 11 in Canada, which reached out to over 120,000 members of the public, showing the continental impact of the group as a whole. The International Youth Nuclear Congress is a global entity that ties youth groups across the globe together. The NAYGN has a nine-member board of directors which runs the operation of NAYGN. As Canadian Affairs Chair, Matthew Mairinger is responsible for sharing information from the board to the regions and chapters, such as initiatives and strategic direction for the group.

3 - 16:02

Q: What are some efforts that NAYGN has kicked off?

A: Matthew Mairinger and the board of NAYGN track and monitor different programs and initiatives within chapters. The NAYGN chapter at Duke University developed a children’s book, Marie’s Electric Adventure, to reach out to elementary school students about energy. NAYGN group has a teacher workshop that teaches teachers about nuclear energy and also sponsors a high school essay competition. Mairinger sees challenges with trying to change the public’s mind after they have associated emotions with nuclear energy as adults, and sees the benefit of educating youth about nuclear energy before that happens is vital to success of the industry. Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy (NICE) Future aims to get nuclear involved in clean energy conversations, such as at the Clean Energy Ministerial and bridge the gap between energy industries.

4 - 24:27

Q: How do we get past the competitiveness of energy industries?

A: Matthew Mairinger aims to advocate for clean energy as a whole and to re-focus on the overall goal of clean energy, instead of promoting one source of clean energy due to personal or financial interest. The Canadian Nuclear Isotope Council advocates for nuclear from the isotope perspective, such as those that are used in medical applications. Other nuclear applications include district heating, small modular reactors (SMR’s), and NASA. NAYGN promotes distribution of knowledge through non-confrontational means, such as at outreach events or in everyday conversation with people who might not know anything about nuclear power. Matthew Mairinger works full-time as Senior Advisor in Stakeholder Relations for Ontario Power Generation at the Pickering Nuclear Power Plant and volunteers with NAYGN in his spare time.

5 - 32:20

Q: How does the nuclear industry change people’s mind?

A: Matthew Mairinger promotes practicing active listening with opponents of nuclear energy in order to start the conversation and get the root of their concerns and fears. This allows questions and answers instead of debate. Mairinger sees a big shift in the industry toward small modular reactors (SMR’s), which may allow a shift in perception from the public. Confidence can also be built by refurbishing the reactors that already exist on time and on budget. As the electric load shifts, baseload requirements are growing and it needs to be considered by both federal governments and communities.

6 - 39:02

Q: What does the future of Canadian nuclear look like?

A: Matthew Mairinger predicts that the Canadian regulator, CNSC is less rigid that the United States’ NRC, and more willing to collaborate. Canadian federal government is also getting on board with the benefits of the industry. Canada also has wide open space, which is great for land usage, but also an opportunity to deploy small modular reactors (SMR’s) to smaller, more rural communities.

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