|Feb6-13, 11:43 PM||#18|
which grad school spec for fusion research
Its important to understand that in almost all areas of physics, the model of the job market you need is abundant job seekers searching for scarce jobs. There aren't many opportunities to retrain or switch fields because labs can usually get someone already up to speed (abundant job seekers, few jobs).
|Feb7-13, 11:24 AM||#19|
Also, UM-Ann Arbor has several professors working on plasma physics for fusion applications.
|Feb11-13, 01:51 PM||#20|
While it is true that there are nuclear engineering programs that do plasma physics, I'd say the above advice that people doing that research in those departments aren't also doing fission research. There might be a little bit of crossover if they are doing something materials based, etc., but...
Generally speaking, if you want to do fusion research, I'd say first pick which type you want to do. Inertial confinement fusion (lasers, bombs) or magnetic confinement (tokamaks, etc.). Then pick your program. Off of the top of my head:
- Princeton - heavy magnetic focus, program is Plasma Physics, but degree is in Astrophysics (where I went)
- MIT - fusion research is all over the place, mostly magnetic confinement, some laser stuff. A good deal of it is in the NE department I think. Know that C-MOD got cut the other year and it's in some weird state of limbo; I'm not sure if I'd go there on that basis.
- Madison Wisconsin - as mentioned above, plasma research is in physics, EE, and NE. Different projects are in different departments. The physics dept is mostly basic plasma science, dynamos and stuff. EE I think does the stellarator while MST (the reversed field pinch) is in Physics. I think. I don't know what the lateral movement options are between departments, but if you did a Ph.D. in Physics there, you'd certainly be able to get a postdoc on some fusion device in the US. They have a small tokamak which I think is in Engineering Physics dept too.
Those are the top three in my mind for magnetic confinement stuff. Other good plasma programs include UCLA, U Washington, WVU, Auburn, Maryland (though it's rapidly shrinking), Caltech (tiny but good department doing basic plasma physics) and several more that I can't name off the top of my head. Some of these do fusion related stuff, some don't, so it might be a little bit harder to get into fusion research from, say, WVU, though you might have better prospects going into plasma processing or space plasmas. Columbia used to do some stuff but I'm not sure of the current status of that program. They had a non-neutral torus, but I think the PI left and went back to Germany, and their levitating dipole experiment that was run jointly with MIT was also shut down a couple years ago.
If you want to do laser/wire pinch/inertial fusion, I don't know all the schools, but Cornell, Michigan, Rochester, and probably a couple of California schools too. However, I didn't do inertial stuff, so I'm not as familiar with it. I do have a couple friends who did though; one did his Ph.D. at Michigan doing wire pinch stuff before doing a postdoc on a tokamak, while another did undergrad research at Cornell doing wire pinch stuff before doing a Ph.D. on magnetic confinement. I also have a TON of friends who did tokamak stuff in grad school who are either working on NIF or just straight up weapons at the weapons labs. So it is possible to move back and forth between them, but usually at the postdoc stage.
During my 10 years in the field of magnetic confinement fusion research, almost everyone that I met at the bigger facilities (Princeton, MIT, General Atomics) had spent some time at one or more of those three places + Madison. A few people I knew did their graduate research at Maryland, but as I said earlier, that program seems to be really winding down.
Long story short: if you want to fusion research, go to a program that does fusion research. If you happen to get a degree in NE, physics, or something else, it's not as important. What is important is that you were part of an active group in the field. If you want to do tokamak research, I think the most direct path to take is to go to Princeton, Wisconsin, or MIT. If you want a job in industry, considering my current experience, I might avoid plasma physics. If you don't take that advice, make sure you do a project that works with RF, lots of heavy numerical simulation, or some other thing that companies are actually interested in. Or go to a program where there are some connections with plasma processing (like Auburn or WVU); but know that they don't do as much fusion related stuff to begin with.
One last thing. If you have the right mindset, there are lots of interesting problems, at least for magnetic confinement fusion, in materials science. It would probably open up industry doors for you, but you wouldn't necessarily be doing plasma research; more like research on the wall that the plasma strikes, etc. This research NEEDS to be done and isn't necessarily being done in the above programs.
|Feb11-13, 01:56 PM||#21|
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