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Anybody that did NucEng grad work at UMich or GATech among others?

  1. Aug 14, 2012 #1
    Hey guys,

    I am a super-senior in Mathematics, and I am looking at grad schools for Nuclear Engineering. Particularly I would like to attend the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor for a PhD program. I am also looking at GaTech because I live within driving distance of that school. Is there anybody on here who has graduated or done grad work in NE at one of the top 10 or 15 schools in NE? I've got a 3.8 GPA from a local university and I'm going to take Physics 1, 2, , Modern, Chemistry I (finished-A), and a few NucEng undergrad courses to prepare myself.

    I have heard from a family friend who is a nuclear engineer that there is a growing demand for nuclear engineers because the field is not a very popular one at the moment, coupled with many upcoming retirees. They are building 4 new reactors in my state very soon. I'm not worried about getting a job in the field, but I would prefer to attend a top ranked university in the field for my PhD.

    My basic question is, what are the statistics looking like for entry NE PhD students at these top schools? Should I apply to UMich or is my record not good enough?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 14, 2012 #2
    Do you have any research experience? I would definitely apply to UM but I would also apply to other schools.
    Out of curiosity, what specific nuclear classes are you taking? What are you thinking about specializing in nuclear engineering?
  4. Aug 14, 2012 #3
    I am currently an undergraduate applying to nuclear engineering programs for graduate school so take what I say with a grain of salt.

    I would highly recommend you apply to more than just Georgia Tech and University of Michigan. Not because of admissions, but because you're limiting yourself to two schools that you have no idea if you'd like to be there for 4-5 years. I would highly recommend you look into both the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and North Carolina Sate Unv. if you're looking for two good programs in your area (9th and 6th in terms of ranking). Also, please consider other schools with nuclear programs not on the top ten list like RPI, Purdue, Oregon State Uni. The majority of the well established nuclear engineering programs have great programs and world class professors. Also, please don't consider this field based on jobs. If you want to go for Nuclear Engineering go because you're interested in the field as a whole.

    (Side Note: Georgia only has two AP1000s being built there the other two you are thinking are across the Savannah River in South Carolina)

    You should have a good chance at getting into most NE programs depending on your personal statement, recommendations, and reasonable GRE scores. Plus, some subfields like reactor physics and computational thermal hydraulics have a lot of researchers who started in either computer science or mathematics. The top programs like Michigan and MIT might be much harder to get into because of the school requirements overall and they really look for already identified research interests.

    Hope this helps and good luck!
  5. Aug 15, 2012 #4
    I'm in the process of applying to nuclear engineering programs as well but I'm having a hard time trying to find which universities offer these programs (besides the top ten). Can you recommend a place to look for a relatively comprehensive listing of nuclear engineering programs? I haven't had much success with google and I've been out of academia for about 5 years. I remember a big book listing all of the nation's graduate physics programs but I can't remember what it was called.
  6. Aug 15, 2012 #5
    Back in my day, GA Tech had its own 5 MW research reactor (Neely Research Center), AGN, duel hot cells, irradiation system into the reactor for neutron activation, etc. The school was separate "The School of Nuclear Engineering and Health Physics", with first class facilities and staff. Most of that is gone now. The remnants are buried in the School of Mechanical Engineering. You even have to dig around to find the degree and digging through the faculity, you'l find a hand full of people designated in nuclear engineering. As much as I hate to say it, it wouldn't be my first choice. On the other hand there are programs like http://nuclear.tamu.edu/ , which has 310 undergraduate, 134 graduate, 18 faculty, two research reactors, several accelerators, etc., and ranks #3. This appears to dwarf the GT program. I know a couple professors in the Aggie department (a former GT prof and a GT classmate), both are very good.
  7. Aug 15, 2012 #6
    I don't have a full list but I'll try and give you a list off the top of my head.

    University of Florida
    University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
    University of Uath
    Colorado School of Mines
    Idaho State University
    University of Idaho - Idaho Falls
    Kansas State University
    University of Massachusetts - Lowell
    Missouri University of Science & Technology
    University of New Mexico
    Ohio State University
    University of Texas - Austin
    Virginia Commonwealth University

    Each of these schools are good options as well in Nuclear Engineering graduate school. Also, it's not the school as much as the professor.
  8. Aug 15, 2012 #7
    Next summer i plan on taking these as a transient student at GaTech:

    NRE 4610 Plasma Phys& Fusion Engr

    A first course in plasma physics and magnetic confinement fusion: basic plasma physics, magnetic confinement concepts, fusion engineering, and a review of the current status of fusion research.

    NRE 3301 Radiation Physics

    Characteristics of atomic and nuclear radiations, transition probabilities, radioactivity, classical and quantum-mechanical derivations of cross sections, interactions of photon, neutron, and charged particles with matter.

    NRE 3212 Fundamentals of NRE

    Intermediate treatment of nuclear and radiological engineering, with emphasis on reactor physics and engineering, radiation protection, and radiation shielding.

    I know this is a tight schedule and it would be better for these specific classes to be taken in separate semesters, but the way my schedule is working out this is the only way I can do this. Would you recommend that I change one of these classes for Thermodynamics? I was only briefly exposed to thermodynamics in Chemistry but it didn't seem too difficult. Or is that something I should/could teach myself?

    I don't have any research experience in NE, but I have talked about doing a "directed study" in PDE's with one of my Math professors in the Spring 2013 semester.

    I'm kind of a noobie in all this, but if I were to take a stab at it, reactor physics seems to be the most interesting to me. I am certainly interested in NE beyond just the job aspects.
    Thank you for the advice.

    Heres a pretty comprehensive list, although it doesn't include the schools' rankings.


    Yes, this is true. Looking through the catalog it seems there are not a whole lot of opportunities in their department. But going there would be SO convenient for me as far as commuting. Thanks for the heads up about Texas A&M; I will apply there as well. Although I'm, not looking forward to shelling out $600-$700 in application fees for all of these places, haha.
  9. Aug 15, 2012 #8
    I do not think you will be able to take NE 4610 without taking other two you listed previously. You do not have the foundation in nuclear and radiation physics (which you will be taking) to do take that class. It won't hurt you to not take any nuclear courses before you go to NE graduate school either. I would not worry about taking those courses as much as taking courses in numerical methods and programming which is important in reactor physics. Also where do you go currently if not Georgia Tech? SPSU?
  10. Aug 15, 2012 #9
    I go to Kennesaw State University, which unfortunately for me is a little remiss on science and engineering-slanted courses. We don't even have a class in Thermodynamics. But by the time I graduate I should have physics 1,2, modern physics or electromagnetism, chem 1, and DE's/PDE's. I would like to squeeze in a numerical methods class if I can.
  11. Aug 15, 2012 #10
    Have you seen if there are any professors that can teach Thermo as a special topics class?
  12. Aug 15, 2012 #11
    I should probably look into that next week when classes start, thanks.
  13. Aug 16, 2012 #12
    Hercuflea, I sent you a PM.
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