France’s nuclear engineers are in greater demand as nuclear power plants proliferate worldwide, its ambassador to the U.S. told the directors of the local chapter of the French American Chamber of Commerce.
“Many are impressed by France’s 30 years of experience with nuclear energy,” Pierre Vimont, the French ambassador, said at a breakfast meeting at the Metro Atlanta Chamber on Jan. 28 during which several members of the board provided overviews of their companies’ activities in the Southeast and elsewhere.
Mr. Vimont was in Atlanta to celebrate the opening of the joint offices of the Alliance française with the German Cultural Center (Goethe Zentrum) at Colony Square in Midtown.
He also attended a ceremony at the Georgia Capitol where World War II veterans were honored; met with students at the Georgia Institute of Technology and spoke at a luncheon of the Atlanta Council on International Relations.
His stay in Atlanta, however, was cut short so that he could join Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she was in Paris for security talks.
Mr. Vimont said at the breakfast meeting that there is a shortage of nuclear engineers worldwide, placing France’s nuclear engineers in a good hiring position since his country has continued to make their training a priority.
France’s expertise already has led to partnerships with U.S. companies. For example, the French company Areva, a major manufacturer of large component parts for nuclear power plants, has joined Northrup Grumman Shipbuilding, a sector of Northrup Grumman Corp., in Newport News, Va., in a joint venture to supply parts for new U.S. nuclear plants.
There currently are more than 100 commercial nuclear power plants in the U.S. and more than 50 already scheduled to be developed worldwide.
Mr. Vimont also inquired about the dedication of U.S. companies to support research and development initiatives at home.
Several board members said that U.S. companies were increasingly outsourcing their R&D because the costs were less expensive abroad.
Gerard Guyard, a board member and chairman and CEO of the GravoTech Group, a manufacturer of laser and rotary engraving machines, software and supplies, said that his company’s engineers conducted some R&D for his firm in France.
“The quality of their work is the same as that in the U.S. and the cost is less,” he said. “But sometimes it can take a little longer.”
For more information about the French chamber, go to www.facc-atlanta.com