Advancing nuclear operators through virtual reality-based training

Abstract

Nuclear reactors generate close to 20% of the energy required by the nation, provide power for submarines, aircraft carriers and deep space exploration, and are involved in the manufacture of vital radiopharmaceuticals. Nuclear reactor safety is unique in that even after an incident is identified and the reactor shut down, the damage to people and environment continues due to decay heat and radiation leakage, which must also be contained properly. Nuclear reactor operators are critical workers who monitor the operational health of the facility and are the first line of defense in case of an incident. It takes more than a year to train each nuclear operator given the need for significant practical experience. Further, while new reactors have improved reliability and resilience to cybersecurity attacks, the new reactor designs are smaller and more modular, and fundamentally different from current designs. As a result, this fundamentally changes the nature of the reactor operator’s work from a historic single focus to concurrent multi-plant operations. Informed by these new requirements and expectations, this project brings together diverse stakeholders to design new virtual reality-based technologies for future nuclear reactor operator training. The planning activities include three areas of investigation relevant to the “Future of Work at the Human-Technology Frontier” program. First, regarding work, the project will explore the role of future reactor designs in changing the nature of the reactor operator’s work and training. For example, this could increase the number of plant operators needed (creating a need to reduce training time), reduce the hours per shift (creating opportunities for currently under-represented groups such as women), or create new demands on the operator such as increased use of spatial memory (requiring specialized training). Second, regarding technology, the project will investigate the use of virtual training environments in addressing training challenges for future reactor operators. Third, regarding workers, the project will consider the work context of future reactor operators with respect to design of virtual training environments. For example, this could include issues regarding upfront costs, security and privacy, and transferability. The planning activities include a systematic literature review, focus group, survey and simulation demonstration, and will generate foundational material for a future proposal. This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Link to award
Who do you look like? Gaze-based authentication for workers in VR
"Who do you look like? Gaze-based authentication for workers in VR", Karina LaRubbio, Jeremiah Wright, Brendan David-John, Andreas Enqvist, Eakta Jain, IEEE Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces (VR), 2022.
  • Paper (Preprint) (PDF)
  • Poster (PDF)
  • Bibtex entry:
    @inproceedings{larubbio_gaze-based_auth_2022,
    author={LaRubbio, Karina and Wright, Jeremiah and David-John, Brendan and Enqvist, Andreas and Jain, Eakta},
    booktitle={2022 IEEE Conference on Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces Abstracts and Workshops (VRW)},
    title={Who do you look like? Gaze-based authentication for workers in VR},
    year={2022},
    organization={IEEE},
    }
Priorities and Considerations in Advancing the Training of Nuclear Reactor Operators Through Mixed Reality
"Priorities and Considerations in Advancing the Training of Nuclear Reactor Operators Through Mixed Reality", Eakta Jain, Andreas Enqvist, American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting and Technology Expo, 2021.
  • Conference Page
  • Bibtex entry:
    @inproceedings{jain_priorities_2021,
  • title = {Priorities and Considerations in Advancing the Training of Nuclear Reactor Operators Through Mixed Reality},
    author = {Eakta Jain and Adreas Enqvist},
    booktitle = {American Nuclear Society Winter Meeting and Technology Expo},
    year = {2021},