Magnetic confinement fusion is a field aiming at delivering sustainable, carbon-free energy within a few decades, based on the fusion of atomic nuclei. Led by world-class research institutions and industry, it is a worldwide "big-science" endeavour of unprecendented scale. The field is rooted in the rich domain of plasma physics and involves a wide variety of engineering disciplines, ranging from materials science to robotics.
The domain of fusion research and development has changed gear since the ITER Organisation was set up and started bulding the ITER device in the EU. As the fusion community makes pace towards commercialization, the focus is shifting from an academic and fundamental perspective to activities driven by technology and industry.
View inside the JET tokamak, with the plasma superimposed on the right - Credit EUROfusion
The Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degree (EMJMD) FUSION- EP, created in 2006, aims at training the next generations of magnetic confinement fusion physicists and engineers. To that end, FUSION-EP provides high-level research-oriented education and a well-integrated cultural experience within an international consortium of institutions leading the interdisciplinary domain of magnetic fusion - a field of crucial importance to the problem of world energy supply.
The ITER construction site by night - Credit ITER Organization
The combined and harmonized teaching and research activities are coordinated among eight partner universities in Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany and Spain. A uniquely comprehensive insight into the cutting-edge R&D in nuclear fusion is guaranteed by the broad range of expertise available in the Consortium.
The FUSION-EP curriculum is organized in two periods of increasing specialisation, each in two different countries, along two distinct tracks: Fusion Sciences and Fusion Technology.
Internationalization, multidisciplinarity and student mobility are inherent parts of the programme structure and philosophy. There exist several student and alumni initiatives leveraging valuable connections within a global network.
In addition to its strong internationalization, a unique feature of FUSION-EP is the stimulation of the students' learning performances by innovative training methods. One on-line and three mobility joint sessions are implemented throughout the curriculum, during which the students practice their academic knowledge in research situations. They enrich their set of transferrable skills by working in a multicultural environment. Each summer a four-day event is a further opportunity for the students to meet each other, as well as lecturers and visiting scholars.
The fourth semester is focused on the application of the learning outcomes in a professional situation. This placement period is used to prepare the master thesis at a partner or in industry. The defense of the students' master theses is held in public during the Summer Event, attended by all students.
Nearly 70% of the FUSION-EP alumni pursues doctoral studies after graduation.
In a 2016 survey, 85% of respondents indicated that the obtained master diploma was very helpful to find a job.
In the long run, 25% of the alumni pursue a fusion career, while about a third goes on in the broader field of engineering in the nuclear sector or outside. The majority of the remaining alumni goes to information technology.