Sargent & Lundy Shares Insights on the Changing Role of Humans in Advanced Nuclear Plant Designs

Role of people in overseeing operations in new reactors discussed

March 27, 2024 – Sargent & Lundy’s Richard Paese discussed the role humans will play in safeguarding the operation of new and advanced reactors at a panel earlier this month at the Annual U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Regulatory Information Conference in Washington, D.C.

Sargent & Lundy Richard PaesePaese, a top industry subject matter expert in digital instrumentation and controls and human factors engineering, participated in the technical session “Human in the Loop: The Changing Role of Humans in New and Advanced Reactor Designs,” led by David Desaulniers, Ph.D., an NRC senior technical advisor. The session explored how new technology is being incorporated into non-traditional operational concepts like remote operation, multi-unit operation, and highly automated systems that are changing the role humans play in overseeing the next generation of nuclear reactors. Paese drew from his previous experience as a NASA International Space Station remote flight controller to support the discussions. Other panelists included an international group of top HFE subject matter experts.

"We must reconsider our approach to plant operations as we transition to the next generation of nuclear plant designs," Paese stated. "An increased reliance on automation is crucial to enhancing safety and efficiency in plant operations. However, we must approach this with a full understanding of its implications. This will alter the way operators interact with systems and, consequently, impact how we conduct our HFE analyses."

At Sargent & Lundy, Paese is leading the effort to obtain regulatory approval of the HFE analyses in large-scale digital control system and control room upgrades. Additionally, he directs strategic initiatives to efficiently modernize control room designs across the operating fleet, reducing risk and enhancing overall return on investment. His contributions position Sargent & Lundy at the forefront of U.S. nuclear fleet control room modernization, which is crucial for safely and efficiently extending the life of nuclear power plants.

The 36th annual conference drew over 3,000 people from more than 40 countries representing all facets of the nuclear power industry to discuss emerging issues, trends, and regulatory activities. Sponsored by the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation and the Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, the RIC is the NRC’s largest annual event.

Nuclear Power Services at Sargent & Lundy

Modernizing U.S. Nuclear Plant Control Rooms

Careers at Sargent & Lundy