The schedule was aggressive, but they met the deadline in time: in the space of eight weeks, the Poloidal Field Coil Section and 19 CAD designers from the ITER Organization and the two companies Sogeti and Assystem finished the 3D models and 800 detailed drawings of ITER's poloidal field coils numbers 2 to 5. This allows the European Domestic Agency to go ahead with launching the call for tender in the middle of September. Deadline for the job was Monday, 31 August—the mission was completed on this Friday 28. "It was a tough race," said Thomas Vollmann, the Design Office Coordinator for the ITER Magnets, "but we made it."
This week, the Management Assessment Team chaired by Won Namkung, a physics professor from Korea specialized in accelerator physics and particle beam transport, convened in Cadarache for its first assessment this week. In its last meeting in June 2009, the ITER Council appointed an assessor to carry out a Management Assessment—which according to the ITER Agreement must be undertaken at least every two years—and established a Steering Committee for the Assessment. The last of the superconducting Wendelstein 7-X coils has
successfully passed the cryogenic tests at CEA Saclay near
Paris. The 50 non-planar and 20 planar coils of W7-X are
the heart of the device and technically the most demanding
components. The non-planar coils produce the helically-twisted magnetic field, responsible for the confinement of
the plasma. For experimental flexibility, the radial plasma
position and the helical twist of the magnetic field lines can
be modified by the planar coils.
Click here to download the latest Wendelstein 7-X Newsletter
Coming to France can be a very exciting prospect. The country ranks number one in the world's top tourism destinations; it's got rich history, superb architecture, breathtaking scenery, pleasant climate and one thousand different varieties of cheese. Add sidewalk cafés, the 35-hour workweek and an average of five weeks paid vacation—with still one of the highest levels of productivity in the world—and you have a nation whose qualité de vie is universally celebrated. Not even the recent trend in French-bashing literature has eroded the country's reputation: millions have read it and still more millions come to visit every year.
But visiting and settling are two very different things. As many ITER Organization staff and their families experience everyday, France can be very a different place from the one they pictured. "Expectations are very high," says Shawn Simpson who is in charge of the Intercultural French Program within Agence Iter-France's Welcome Office. "And as a consequence, disappointment can be very high too."
The French program Shawn has been in charge of for the past three years provides a unique vantage point for the observation of the adjustment process of the ITER Organization staff and their families. "Whatever the nationality," she says, "there is an enormous desire for knowledge and understanding of French language and culture. But when you're in your 40s or 50s, language learning requires considerable effort."
The challenges of integration are familiar to Shawn. The daughter of a war-correspondent-turned-diplomat, she was born in Vietnam and spent her childhood moving from country to country before settling in Aix to study classical archaeology at the University. "I love France," she says, "I've lived here for the past 36 years. I understand how the country works and I share the values it was built upon. But for a newcomer, things are hard to figure out: how do you explain to an Indian mother, for instance, that vegetarian meals do not exist at the school cafeteria for her kids?"
"The French," says Shawn, "are so much into their habits." When asked to slice pork very thin, a staple of Korean cuisine, a local butcher will simply say "Non"—because a jambon slice has a predefined thickness and that's the way it's always been. Same thing with having chopsticks at the canteen—even if one-fourth of the world's population uses them, you just don't eat with chopsticks in France. Then there's the "French individualism," which "many cultures do not understand" and have difficulties coping with. "You don't find a strong feeling of group belonging here ..."
So what happens is that many ITER "expats" form communities "on a national basis, with the ones who understand their way of life." This is only natural, and Shawn is not too pessimistic. "They will start feeling more confident ... the process takes time." What is needed here is to "reproportion the expectations." And on the French side, un petit effort.
Among the hundreds of books that are published every year about Provence, "Données économiques et sociales" never makes the best-seller list. This is quite unfair: the yearly publication from the French National Institute of Statistics and the Regional Chamber of Commerce, though a bit arid, is a treasure trove of facts, ratios, maps and figures that help draw a comprehensive picture of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (PACA) region.
The administrative region PACA, which was established in 1972, more or less covers the southeastern part of the ancient Roman Provincia Narbonensis, whose capital was the city of Narbonne. From the 9th to the 15th century, the County of Provence was partially and successively a fiefdom of the Catalan rulers of Barcelona, the Kings of Burgundy, the German rulers of the Holy Roman Empire and of the French-born Kings of Naples. Only in 1486, under King Charles VIII, was Provence legally incorporated into the French royal domain.
PACA is now composed of six départements—administrative divisions that were created during the French Revolution in 1792. One of them, the Alpes-Maritimes, was joined to France belatedly in 1860.
These six departments are very different from one another. Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, with respective populations of 133,000 and 155,000, are still very rural, with few industrial establishments—except in the Durance Valley—and an economy dominated by agriculture, sheep raising and tourism. Agriculture is also very strong in Vaucluse (pop. 533,000) and Bouches-du-Rhône (pop. close to 2 million), which account for more than 30 percent of all fruits and vegetables, except potatoes, that are grown in France. Var (pop. close to 1 million) and Alpes-Maritimes (pop. 1 million) are more tourism-oriented and also wealthier, at least on the littoral fringe where population and economic activity is concentrated.
PACA's industrial activity centres in Bouches-du-Rhône; this department is responsible for more than 80 percent of the region's total importations and exportations.
All together, PACA ranks n°3 among the French regions for its contribution to the Gross National Product (7 percent); Paris-Île de France (IDF) being n°1 with 28 percent and Rhône-Alpes n°2 with 9.7 percent. From an economic point of view, France is still a very centralized country.
Average income in PACA is slightly higher than the French "provincial average," not counting the Paris-IDF region, and 5 percent lower than the global national average.
The average net monthly income for a PACA resident is EUR 1,400 (compared to EUR 1,500 nationally). Managers ("cadres") typically earn twice that sum in in Bouches-du-Rhône, where wages are highest. In Hautes-Alpes and Alpes-de-Haute Provence the average monthly salary of a manager (EUR 2,600) is 15 percent lower.
On average, women's salaries are still 25 percent lower than men's, and up to 28 percent in management positions...(to be continued)
Economic and social statistics about the PACA region can be accessed in PDF format
PA is a commonly heard ITER acronym that may take some explanation for the outsider. The two letters stand for Procurement Arrangement—an agreement that is signed between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies authorizing work for the development and manufacturing of the ITER installation.
Seven ITER Members—representing 34 nations—are sharing the responsibility for building the ITER machine and facilities. During the negotiations that preceded the signing of the ITER Agreement, the original sharing of procurement was decided between the Members—about 45.5 percent for Europe, and 9.1 percent each for China, India, Japan, Korea, the Russian Federation and the United States. The lion's share—90 percent—will be delivered by means of in-kind contributions. That means that in the place of cash, the Members will be delivering components and buildings directly to the ITER Organization. But how do you build 9.1 percent of a project, and who's keeping tally?
Procurement Arrangements are a unique ITER invention. Each one of these documents governs the procurement of plant systems, components, or site construction, detailing all the necessary technical specifications and management requirements. The value of each PA is expressed in ITER Units of Account (IUAs). This currency was devised for ITER to measure the value of in-kind contributions consistently over time, effectively neutralizing market fluctuations. Procurement allocations were assigned among the Members on the basis of valuations of components; contributing 9.1 percent of the project, therefore, becomes a matter of adding up the IUA value of the different contributions.
"The in-kind procurement concept in ITER is unique," explains Ina Backbier, who is Senior Project Coordinator in the Project Office. "The ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies are working together as partners, without a typical client/supplier relationship. The interdependencies between all players in the project make for a very complex technical and organizational work environment."
Sometimes the procurement of one component is shared among multiple Domestic Agencies. In other cases, sub-components from one Domestic Agency may be delivered to others in the supply chain for integration, as in the case of the toroidal field conductors. These conductors are built by six Domestic Agencies and delivered to winding lines established by two Domestic Agencies. "With such complex sharing schemes, a clear management infrastructure and close collaboration are necessary in order to ensure all are on the same page regarding issues like quality control, regulatory requirements, risk management, logistics, acceptance testing and schedule requirements," recounts Ina. "The ITER Organization is maturing at a fast pace; any work conducted under Procurement Arrangements will have to follow the ITER project infrastructure established to ensure full and proper integration at all technical and organizational levels, as well as compliance with the French nuclear regulations."
The finished Procurement Arrangements and their signature represent the culmination of months of intense collaboration. With the signed document in hand, the Domestic Agencies have the authorization to proceed and launch procurements. Depending on the nature and complexity of each system, Domestic Agencies may begin with engineering design work, qualification work and prototyping prior to the start of actual manufacturing. About 140 individual Procurement Arrangements are currently planned to implement the work packages for building ITER; 25 have been signed to-date—representing about 30 percent of the entire ITER value—and the pace is accelerating as major system designs reach finalization.
"The Procurement Arrangements are fundamental instruments of the ITER Project," explains Ina. "They are the main documents by which the ITER Organization authorizes work, and the tool that is the basis of collaboration between the ITER Organization and the Domestic Agencies. They have to be developed with caution and care to ensure they include all requirements for achieving the ITER technical, scientific, schedule, quality, safety and cost targets."
Three outstanding interns have shared their time and talents this summer with staff at the US ITER Project Office in Oak Ridge.
Zach Campeau, who received his Bachelor's degree in industrial engineering from Clemson University in South Carolina, worked with Brad Nelson to review processes and procedures, build informative resources, and corral and condense information. He currently attends IESE Business School in Barcelona, where he is working on a bilingual Master's degree in Business Administration.
Zach became interested in engineering at an early age, and he says his parents fostered the enthusiasm by giving him building blocks and an erector set. He worked previously at Raytheon Company as a manufacturing engineer and also did an internship at Ethicon Inc. After completing his studies, Zach would like to stay in the realm of "big science, energy, and international projects."
Danielle Newell worked with Juan Ferrada to help remodel the vacuum vessel cooling water system so that it matches the new design. She has studied at Pellissippi State Community College and will be attending East Tennessee State University, majoring in physics with a mathematics minor.
"A great physics teacher" helped pique Danielle's interest in science when she was a high school student. She is considering teaching when she attends graduate school and adds that she would love to work at ITER in France after finishing her studies.
Tyler Whittle is a junior at Nashville's Vanderbilt University majoring in engineering science and physics. This summer Tyler worked with Dave Rasmussen in modelling the microwave propagation in sections of the electron cyclotron waveguide and automating the measurements of the high-vacuum performance of the waveguide.
Tyler's enjoyment of science and math classes in high school set him on his current path, which has also included an internship through the University of Tennessee conducting research on resonance frequencies of rhenium diboride. After completing his undergraduate studies, he hopes to earn a higher degree in physics and eventually share his passion for science with others by becoming a professor.
As US ITER Project Manager Ned Sauthoff said in a recent staff e-mail, "We are fortunate to have hosted these exceptional young people, and we wish them continued success in their academic endeavours."
They can see the heavy machines from afar, and sometimes they can hear them rumbling over the construction site across the Verdon river bed. But until yesterday, this group of neighbours from the nearby village of Vinon-sur-Verdon had no idea of the impressive size and the look of the "Chantier ITER." Yesterday they got their chance: Alexia Richebois of Agence Iter France and Neil Calder, Head of ITER Communications, took them on a tour around the site. This service offered by AIF is available to anybody, just call 04.42.25.32.10. The World Health Organization (WHO) says the spread of swine flu has become a global pandemic. Cases have now been confirmed in 210 countries and territories around the world. General infection-control practices and good hygiene can help to reduce transmission. This includes covering your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, using a tissue when possible and disposing of it promptly. It is also important to wash your hands frequently with soap and water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to face or to other people, and cleaning hard surfaces like door handles frequently using a normal cleaning product.