Everything was "special" last week as the ITER Management Advisory Committee (MAC) met for two days in Cadarache in response to the request formulated by the ITER Council last June at its 10th meeting in Washington D.C.
This Special MAC Meeting, with a limited number of participants, aimed at monitoring the implementation of the ITER schedule recovery plans and at reviewing the actions already implemented (or to be implemented in the near future) by the ITER Organization.
Also special was the fact that the heads of the seven Domestic Agencies, or their representatives, instead of being seated among the MAC members as they usually are at MAC meetings, were seated among the ITER Organization management. This small change in seating arrangements conveyed a strong meaning: Domestic Agency heads and ITER Organization management now form what Director-General Motojima terms the "Unique ITER Team
," an integrated body pursuing a common goal and resolutely pulling in the same direction.
Considering the importance of the issues discussed, ITER management also decided to convene an all-staff meeting in the afternoon following the conclusion of the MAC special session, and asked both MAC Chair Ranjay Sharan (India) and ITER Council Vice Chair Edmund Synakowski (US) to address the assembled ITER personnel.
Speaking to a packed audience, Ranjay Sharan
, whom Director-General Motojima introduced as "one of the first MAC members" and one who had seen "all the ups and downs of the project since 2007," said that the present moment was definitely more "up" than "down." "MAC," he said, "is very pleased to see that recovery actions are now in place [...] The issues, constraints and restraints are now identified and I have no doubt you will solve them [...] In the past three months, you have achieved one more milestone than the target—this is a very good signal!"
A long-standing "member of the family of fusion" and the present Associate Director (Office of Science) for Fusion Energy Sciences at the US Department of Energy, Edmund Synakowski
gave a very moving speech, telling the assembled staff that they were "at the ground floor of something truly historic" and confessing that he was "both impressed and envious" at the challenge being raised here at Cadarache. "We all recognize," he said, "the excellence presently executed in the ITER Project."
Kijung Jung, head of ITER Korea, conveyed on behalf of all Domestic Agencies the "common appreciation for the great efforts that are being accomplished" and assured that "all Domestic Agencies will do their best for the ITER Project. Let's go toward success together!" he cheered.
Spirits were high when Osamu Motojima took the floor to present the details of the recovery plans and corrective actions being implemented. "Cost is contained; slippage is being recovered," he said. "The ITER train is back on track; now we need to accelerate." He stressed that the progress gained and noted by this MAC are due to contributions of the staff and, he insisted, "that this is each and every one of you."
Schedule Control; a Simplified Integration Scheme; more integration between the ITER Organization and Domestic Agencies ("all the way to the Technical Responsible Officers"); and the acceptance that "building designs should be frozen as soon as possible" are some of the actions and attitudes that will contribute to the acceleration.
Director of the Department for ITER Project Rem Haange then provided further details on the status of the "critical and super critical items" such as building construction; vacuum vessel; toroidal field, polodial field and central solenoid coils; and the cryostat. "We have introduced methods to understand the slippages and to stop them," he explained.
In his address, Director-General Motojima evoked the figure of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus who regretted in his time (5th century B.C.) that "each physician was the physician of one disease and of no more," and that physicians who could treat the whole body were impossible to find.
Replace "physicians" with "engineers and physicists," the Director-General suggested and—at a distance of 25 centuries—you can draw a parallel with the present situation. "We all need to have a broader view. We all need to understand the person who is near us," said DG Motojima.
This is the only way to treat the whole body and to build the whole machine.
Pictures of Special MAC Meeting can be viewed here.