Summer School on Small Modular Reactors

Together with OECD Nuclear Energy Agency, the Halden HTO Project will organize a Summer School on Small Modular Reactors.

The Halden HTO Project has been asked by the Halden HTO Management Board to extend its role in knowledge transfer to the young generation and to contribute to competence building in the nuclear industry. Therefore, in cooperation with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), the Halden HTO Project will organize a Summer School on Small Modular Reactors, 21 – 24 August 2023, in Halden, Norway.


The topics of the summer school will cover the basics of Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), important principles in the regulation of new advanced reactors, and various designs of SMRs. The focus is on the “HTO view” of SMRs, including the human factors aspects of these new designs. However, it is also an important focus to clarify and discuss the boundaries for human actions in the various SMR designs including the new inherent safe designs and the passive safety features. Which role will humans play in these designs? Thus, this discussion will be introduced by presenting some of the technical designs and how the new operational concepts are proposed, leading to the boundaries for the human role and thus the requirements for human actions.

Venue & target audience

The conference venue is the Fredriksten Hotel in Halden. It will be an in-person event only. In order to emphasize the networking aspect of the event, we will not offer a virtual or hybrid alternative.

The summer school is primarily aimed at young professionals in the beginning of their career and will be informative both for regulators, vendors and utility personnel. However, the summer school may be useful also for more experienced people wanting to know more about SMRs. The lectures will be supported by examples from the Halden HTO experimental program.

Fee and accommodation:

Fee: 5000 NOK is to be paid after registration, further instructions will be sent by email. The fee covers lunches, two joint dinners, coffee breaks and fruit, course materials, associated events and other related costs.

Accommodation: Hotel price Fredriksten hotel: 1495 NOK per person per night, breakfast included. This must be paid for by the participant on departure.


Please register by sending an email to More information regarding payment will be sent to you by email. Please use the same contact information if you have any questions.

Tentative programme

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Download detailed program here

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Sunday, evening of August 20, 2023, Getting acquainted, joint dinner. Fredriksten Hotel, Halden.

Monday, August 21, 2023

  • Overview of OECD NEA’s role and functions in nuclear safety, and an overview of the OECD NEA Halden HTO Program
  • Introduction to the Halden HTO program, focus on SMRs, multi-unit and automation
  • Small Modular Reactors – an overview
  • Regulation of advanced reactors in the U.S., “Part 53”
  • Panel session: Key takeaways from todays’ sessions: Implications for boundaries for the human role and requirements for human actions

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

The design and concept of operation of the GE Hitachi SMR

  • The design and concept of operation of the NuScale SMR
  • Panel session: Key takeaways from todays’ sessions: Implications for boundaries for the human role and requirements for human actions

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

  • Microreactors
  • Multi-unit challenges and possible solutions – Lab exercises
  • Panel session: Key takeaways from todays’ sessions: Implications for boundaries for the human role and requirements for human actions

Thursday, August 24, 2023

  • The design and concept of operation of the eVinci micro reactor, Gen IV technologies
  • Summary session: Key takeaways from the summer school: Implications for boundaries for the human role and requirements for human actions


Dr. David Desaulniers

Dr. David Desaulniers is a senior-level scientist at the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) with over 34 years of experience in the nuclear industry. For the past 15 years, he has served as NRC’s Senior Technical Advisor for Human Factors and Human Performance Evaluation, providing expert technical advice on emerging technical and policy issues concerning human factors and human performance in nuclear safety.

He obtained his doctorate from Rice University, in Houston Texas, where he specialized in Engineering Psychology. Through the development of guidance, standards, and regulations, his work has addressed a wide range of technical and policy issues where there is a nexus between the design and operation of nuclear power plants, human and organizational performance, and the protection of public health and safety.

He has held leadership positions within the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Nuclear Power Engineering Committee, the American Nuclear Society’s (ANS) Large Light-Water Reactor Consensus Committee, and the Nuclear Energy Agency’s Working Group on Human and Organisational Factors. For his achievements in human and organizational factors to advance nuclear safety and innovation, Dr. Desaulniers is a recipient of NRC’s Distinguished Service Award and ANS’s Don Miller Award.

Karen Priestman

Karen started her career in 1990 at Ontario Hydro, the precursor to Ontario Power Generation (OPG) which will be building the first SMR in North America. She has worked in a wide variety of roles, in consultancies, design organizations, manufacturers, and, for 10 years, as an independent contractor, before joining GEH SMR Technologies Canada Ltd in 2022.

Karen’s career has been a mix of systems engineering and human factors engineering (HFE), largely in high-hazard industries, including defense, rail, oil and gas, and nuclear. Civil nuclear has been her focus for the past 18 years, with 15 of those spent living and working in the UK. She spent 6 years supporting the Hitachi-GE and Horizon UK ABWR new build project, leading the HFE during the Generic Design Assessment for 4 years, and acting as HFE Manager for the EPC contract and then the Architect Engineer for the site-specific phase until the project was canceled.

Currently, Karen is the HFE Technical Lead for the BWRX-300 SMR design-build project at GEH. Karen has a Bachelor of Applied Science in Systems Design Engineering with a Human Factors minor from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She is an Ontario-licensed Professional Engineer, a Chartered Fellow of the UK Chartered Institute of Ergonomics and Human Factors, and a member of the International Council On Systems Engineering.

Dr. Joseph E. Oncken

Dr. Joe Oncken is a postdoctoral research associate at INL in the Instrumentation, Controls, and Data Science department. His research interests include advanced control methods such as model predictive control, surrogate modeling for complex systems, and remote monitoring and operation systems.

At INL, he leads research into remote operation systems for remotely deployed microreactors, including the application of digital twins for system security and resilience. In addition, he also pursues research into predictive control development and deployment for the autonomous operation microreactors. Dr. Oncken holds a Ph.D. in mechanical engineering from Michigan Technological University, and a B.S. in mechanical engineering from the University of North Dakota.