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Preaching the gospel of industry
Tokamaks may not fly, but in building ITER there's a lot to learn from the aircraft industry—and from Airbus especially. Like ITER, the European consortium is based on international cooperation and work-sharing agreements. Both organizations were also formed to develop "a very innovative product, something that was never seen before."
This parallel is drawn by Jacques Farineau, Senior Advisor on Industrial Matters to ITER Principal Deputy Director-General Norbert Holtkamp. After a quarter century spent at Airbus, where he was in charge of systems development for the Super Jumbo A380, Jacques joined ITER last November. "The A380," he says, "was a fantastic project and a tremendous challenge. After seven years of that kind of excitement I was afraid I'd get bored. I didn't see myself signing in for another tour of duty—any other aircraft would have been ordinary compared to the A380."
A year and a half ago, when the aircraft began its commercial career, there weren't many other projects that could match the A380 in terms of challenge and excitement. "I had read a lot about ITER and I was fascinated. At one point, I learned that ITER was looking for someone who could deal with the industrial aspects of the project—someone who had the culture and the experience of large industrial collaborations."
ITER's challenge is two-fold—the project is a complex scientific endeavour that relies heavily on the performance of industry. It's plasma physics within 23,000 tonnes of steel and 150,000 kilometres of superconducting strands. And it's also a first: "JET was quite small by comparison, with just a few in-kind procurements."
Jacques sees his mission here as bringing an "industrial culture" to ITER. How does he define that culture? "Essentially," he says, "it's about formalized management, strict procedures, and above all anticipation."
So, while he preaches the Gospel of Industry, his new colleagues instruct him in the fundamentals of the ITER Project—"I met a lot of people in ITER, Manfred Glugla, Gary Johnson, David Campbell ... they were really eager to explain, and they did it well."
Nine months into this new world, Jacques Farineau is optimistic. "Airbus was established in 1973 with no experience in international cooperation—and look what we've been able to do over the past 36 years!"
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