Siiri Jämsén, Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO)
"Motivation is the best tool for learning, but external motivation (such as money or the wishes of others) doesn't work nearly as well as your own inner fire and curiosity".
What have you studied and how did you choose this option?
I studied at LUT in the Energy Engineering programme with a specialisation in Nuclear Engineering. I liked physics in high school, but I didn't want to go for pure physics, I thought engineering was a better option for me in terms of employment and a meaningful career path. I found energy technology to be a combination of physics - that I found interesting - and an opportunity to save the world. Besides the solutions to the climate crisis, energy technology was easy to see as a future field. Radiation physics was the most interesting of the upper secondary school courses, and so I chose Lappeenranta because I knew that it was practically the only place where I could study nuclear engineering. At university, I tried a minor in business studies, which I also studied as an exchange student in Madrid, but technology is more my thing.
How did you become a plant safety engineer?
Almost all my summer jobs during my studies were related to nuclear power. As a radiation supervisor in the Olkiluoto reactor hall, I felt reassured that my choice to study nuclear engineering was the right one. In 2019, I did my thesis for TVO, and as soon as the thesis was finished, I was able to continue my duties as a plant safety engineer. My thesis served as a handy introduction to the world of nuclear safety engineering at Olkiluoto 3.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best part is learning new things. I get to solve interesting technical challenges and problems. As a plant safety engineer, you think in terms of nuclear safety, but often that requires an understanding of both the technical details and the administrative complexities. So the first two years of work have been very much about learning new things. Of course, there are so many different interesting tasks at Olkiluoto from a nuclear engineer's point of view that there will certainly be plenty to learn in the future.
What have been the highlights and most important lessons of your career?
Highlights are always successes - both big and small. My student days were very important to me. I have also benefited professionally from networking through events, associations and other activities.
What are your expectations for the future?
For a long time it seemed that my plan, conceived in high school, refined and successfully implemented at university, ended when I graduated and got a job in the industry. The future will probably require a new plan. At this stage, my goal is to develop in my job and learn new and interesting things along the way.
For whom is this a suitable career option?
This is not nuclear physics - except that it is. Personally, I see the physics as the salt of the job, but there are people from all sorts of backgrounds in our team, and physics is not for everyone. The reason may be the intensive study of the past couple of years, but at this point I think a good plant safety engineer is like a sponge. Able to absorb a great deal of information. It is also good to be able to grasp the big picture and to be able to process the knowledge you have absorbed into new forms.
What greetings would you like to send to a young person considering a career?
Motivation is the best tool for learning, but external motivation (such as money or the wishes of others) doesn't work nearly as well as your own inner fire and curiosity. Go for what interests you!