Awanou Kankarafou was one of the very first employees to work for Tebodin Peters Engineering France. He now works as a PDMS administrator on Project UK at Sofinel in Bristol.
What led you to become a design and calculation engineer in the nuclear power sector?
I have always been very interested in mechanics and therefore chose to study mechanical conception and mechanical engineering at university. I then headed towards the nuclear power sector as I was offered the opportunity to work on the first European EPRTM reactor: Olkiluoto 3 in Finland (Areva forTVO). It goes without saying that the nuclear sector presented me with many other opportunities as it’s a sector which is still expanding.
What have you done since?
Since then I have worked on the FA3 EPR project in Flamanville as a piping design and calculation engineer and now I am working here in Bristol.
Which project are you working on at Sofinel Bristol?
Project UK: the construction of 2 EPRTM by an EDF/AREVA consortium.
What is your role exactly?
My role is mostly that of PDMSTM administrator, but also one of support to the engineers, managing databases and being a training officer.
What exactly is the role of the PDMSTM administrator?
PDMSTM is a 3D CAD software. The PDMS administrator plays a key role in supporting the engineers as he is responsible for the software functioning properly. He manages user profiles and rights, surveys and foresees any problems, ensures the maintenance of the data bases and oversees the development of programmes specific to clients’ needs.
How do you like living in the UK?Are working methods and attitude very different?
Bristol is a very charming city, very lively and the people there are very open and friendly. The British people do have a very different way of working. What first surprised me was that we have no individual offices but instead we work in an open-planned office. What surprised me even more was that, despite that, everything is always so quiet and peaceful and the working atmosphere is very pleasant. At Sofinel, people are very welcoming and most of all very professional. They also like to follow strict procedures and to have a handbook they can refer to, which is where I come in handy.
Sofinel and TPEF are French companies that work a lot on the development of the UK nuclear power programme. How is French know-how perceived in the UK and by the people you work with?
French know-how in the nuclear power industry is unquestionable. EDF and Areva are pioneers in this field as well as worldwide references, the French nuclear network being the second biggest after the USA (with 58 reactors). My British co-workers were not used to working with PDMSTM as they were more used to working with software such as Autocad. This is where TPEF has the advantage as our know-how in PDMSTM is really appreciated.
How long have you been working for Tebodin Peters Engineering France?
There are quite a number of companies offering engineering and design services in the industry. How is TPEF seen amongst the engineers?
TPEF is appreciated for the fact that its very small structure allows it to have both a human approach and human values. When I started in TPEF I was one of the only 2 engineers that the company started with and I have always felt at home.
As a carrier specialist in nuclear power, how do you view the future of this industry considering the controversies surrounding it?
The nuclear power industry has clearly not said its last words and still has a steady future of developing alongside renewable energy solutions.
Within that future where does TPEF stand?
TPEF is still a fairly young company experiencing a rapid expansion. Its know-how and its human approach will allow it to evolve and be a reference in the nuclear industry as well as in future markets such as that of offshore structures and future energy solutions.
Interview by: Michaël Xavier HENRY