ITER DDG Carlos Alejaldre addressed a packed conference room, while journalism school students took notes for a special ITER project.
Every year since 1925, large and curious crowds of visitors have strolled along the hallways of the Foire Internationale de Marseille to discover the latest developments in appliances, services or technology.
The trade fair, which opened on Friday 24 September and which closed on Monday 4 October, is one of the oldest and most important in France, and draws an average of 400,000 visitors, 95% of them residents of the PACA region.
ITER has been present at the Foire Internationale since 2006. Volunteers from the ITER Organization, Agence Iter France, CEA-Institute for Magnetic Fusion Research (IRFM) and, this year, Fusion for Energy (F4E), man the ITER stand, hand out brochures and goodies to the public, and answer their many questions about the project.
Many a visitor stood captivated by the 3D animations, video clips and panels featured on the ITER stand.
Every year, a special "ITER Day" is organized with the participation of the ITER management, senior fusion scientists and various specialists involved in ITER. A press conference usually follows, which provides the local media with updates on the project's progress.
As works on the platform have become more and more "visible", interest in ITER has increased among the local population. For a long time, the project had remained an abstraction; it is now a reality for all to see.
"ITER Day", Wednesday 29 September, was a great opportunity for visitors to satisfy their curiosity.
In a packed conference room, fusion veteran Jean Jacquinot, former Head of JET and of CEA's Fusion Department, addressed the issue of the "future of energy"; Carlos Alejaldre, ITER Deputy Director-General, presented an update on the ITER project, saying in his conclusion that "a million years from now, people will remember that the decisive steps in bringing fusion to mankind were made here, in France, in Provence..."
40 people from IO, Agence Iter France, CEA and F4E — here, Alexia Richebois of Agence Iter France — volunteered to spread the ''Gospel of ITER''.
In the afternoon, Laurent Schmieder, F4E Head of Site, talked about the construction of the installation and the economic impact on the region, and Nadia Fabre, a chief-engineer at the Regional Direction of Environment, Land Planning and Housing (DREAL) presented the ITER Itinerary, where the first test-convoy will be organized in less than a year — the first components being expected on site by mid-2012.
An efficient communication event is one that is fun — and fun it was to be served "exotic" foods on the ITER stand and to be invited by Agence Iter France to guess their origin... As there are seven ITER Members, there were only seven possible answers.
And after a lottery draw, the winners of the quiz could expect to be treated to a free flight for three over the ITER platform.