When the Institute of Nuclear Power Operation issued Significant Operating Experience Report (SOER) 10-2, ‘Engaged, Thinking Organisations’, it highlighted that there was a need to improve understanding of the fundamentals of nuclear plant components, systems, and integrated plant operations. In addition to improvements to operator, technician, and engineer programmes, Exelon Generation responded with a commitment to improve the understanding of plant operation for employees who do not receive formal systems training. Examples included security guards who patrol in and around nuclear plants, to communications staff who interface with the general public.

While there were options for classroom courses derived from operator training, or other available public reading, no single solution existed that was at the right level of detail and also incorporated the concepts of thinking and engaged behaviours consistent with SOER 10-2. In addition, a classroom-based course presented significant delivery challenges across an entire fleet when considering the largest group of recipients would be security guards working rotating shifts. The decision was made to totally re-imagine how this type of training is delivered for this audience, and to create a totally new, flexible, and engaging computer-based solution.

"By using virtual reality techniques this course enables a large number of staff to receive the training in a way that fits their day-to-day working arrangements," David Whitmore, Atkins.

The IPPO course, first launched in April 2013, runs in Exelon’s Learning Management System and is available to anyone in the company. The training takes roughly four hours to complete. IPPO places the student first in a virtual-reality Welcome Centre where they receive briefings from on-screen characters prior to plant access. It then allows students to explore a virtual 3D pressurised water reactor or boiling water reactor at their own pace and direction, using a workbook as a guide. The virtual BWR and PWR sites, buildings, and plant areas are laid out generically for the reactor type. Students are presented with simulated inside, outside, normal, and emergency equipment and components that they will recognise from their plant. When plant equipment or areas are selected, the student is presented first with pop-up basic information and a link to a professionally animated and narrated video. The animation style uses a combination of full motion 3D with fly-through, enhanced photo, and system diagram presentations, along with practical examples to bring a new level of understanding.

Each major plant area contains knowledge check exercises including matching question, multiple choice, and exercises to compare a typed answer to an expert’s. Throughout IPPO, the focus is on engagement and on reaching out to individuals who have no previous power plant training. Most videos also include coaching on thinking and engaged behaviours for the equipment or plant area as text and voice messages delivered on a virtual GPS device. Examples include the need to avoid bumping instrument racks, remaining clear of automatic equipment, and ensuring doors and hatches are closed.

After visiting all areas and viewing the content, the students will return to the Welcome Centre and complete a BWR or PWR quiz in the virtual reading room. Here, they can also continue their learning with links to industry websites and other sources of further learning.

The content in IPPO was developed using original concept drawings, storyboards and scripts developed by the Exelon team, based on extensive experience teaching Operations and Generic Fundamentals topics. Since its launch, the IPPO course has been completed by over 2500 students, and has saved significant costs compared to delivering a legacy classroom course. Feedback has been very positive, and the CBT is being utilised as a pre-course activity now for some operator and technician courses prior to their formal training

Questions regarding Exelon’s IPPO course can be directed to course creator Mr. Jeffrey Stevens at Jeffrey.Stevens@exeloncorp.com

Other Shortlisted Courses (Training course of the year – short)

  • Nuclear in a Nutshell: An Induction to the Nuclear Industry (ALARP Training Services)
  • Overview and Key Topics in the World Nuclear Industry Today (World Nuclear University)
  • The Extraordinary Leader For Safety (Tecnatom)
  • Triple Bar Nuclear Manufacturing (National Skills Academy Nuclear)