Following the announcement of the GPNI award to the Engage consortium for the ITER project, the article gives an insight into the experiences of an Assystem Project Manager working on the ITER project from offices in the UK.

Written by Sarah Foster, Project Manager 

The ITER project, is by it’s very nature, a triumph of international collaboration. It needs to be. At the site in Caderache, France, there are 35 different nationalities working together on what is the world’s largest fusion project. Funding comes from the seven members of the project; China, the European Union, India, Japan, Korea, Russia and the United States and there are another 40 or so cooperation agreements in place internationally. International collaboration is built in at every level.

 

As a Project Manager working on a project owned by Fusion for Energy (F4E), the domestic agency for Europe, I work as part of an integrated, collaborative team every day. Our team encompasses professionals from at least six different organisations, based in four different countries, all with specialist capabilities to bring, delivering to a client based in yet another country.

 

This arrangement clearly adds to the challenges and complexity of the project but. When properly manged, the rewards we gain are the wide range of expertise and experience of the partner organisations which no single entity could offer and yet are essential to meet the demands of this unique project. To make it work, we use modern communications tools, underpinned by a systems engineering, requirements based approach and have recently started using a PLM tool. Digital technology helps but you also need to have the right mindset for collaborative work and take time to understand the cultural differences and working practices between the different organisations.

 

Clearly, a shared purpose is vital for successful collaboration. For many of us, being part of the international team that gets us a step closer to the clean energy source that fusion will be is an important driver that pulls us together. The ITER adventure is one of the most exciting and interesting projects happening in engineering today and as a R&D project is dynamic and challenging. Many of the solutions currently being developed are the first of their kind and the desire and capacity to innovate unites teams across borders and fosters the collaborative spirit.

 

Sarah Foster

Project Manager

Assystem Energy & Infrastructure.