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Physics Career advice to become a Fusion Engineer

  1. Oct 17, 2017 #1
    Hello, I am posting to get some career advice about pursuing a career in fusion physics/engineering.
    With the construction of ITER in France and all the worldwide research into fusion as an energy source, I am extremely interested in the field and I want to help develop fusion technology. I am interested in getting a Ph.D in Fusion energy/engineering but I don't quite know what the academic pathway is to get there.

    I will describe where I am currently and where I think I am headed. Any and all suggestions or criticisms are welcome. I am currently studying mechanical engineering (bachelor's) in Canada with a minor in physics. The minor will cover all the major topics in physics (quantum, statistical, solid state, electrodynamic...). Because my minor covers the major areas of physics, I do not think it's necessary to get a full bachelor in physics along with my bachelors in mechanical engineering but I am open to the idea of getting a bachelor's in physics if it is necessary.

    I am very interested in both the physics and engineering aspects of fusion energy but as far as getting a masters degree, I really don't know where to go. I am looking into different programs in the EU in applied physics or other programs geared around plasma physics. There are some very new program specifically about fusion physics/engineering but don't know anything about them.

    About where to get a Ph.D, I will probably figure that out when I get to that point unless it's necessary to start thinking about it now.

    What would someone who works in the field of fusion physics recommend as an academic pathway?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 18, 2017 #2


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    Welcome to the PF. :smile:

    I'm not sure I can help much, but when you read the biographies of the scientists working on ITER and the scientists at LLNL and other facilities doing fusion research, do you see some common themes? Where did they get their degrees, and what specialties did they pursue in school?

    Also, have you discussed these questions with your faculty advisor? Is there anybody in the Physics Department who you could talk to for their advice?
  4. Oct 18, 2017 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Canadian citizens are not eligible to join ITER.

    ITER's public schedule has them running d-t in 2035. There is no way a successor will be even started until this has happened.

    I have no confidence in any ITER schedule. It could be much later.
  5. Oct 18, 2017 #4


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    There is no such thing as "fusion engineering" exactly. There is, however, nuclear engineering, which does encompass fusion and fission reactors.

    You still a very long way to go in this. Focusing WAY too narrow (fusion engineering) at this stage is not a very good idea. By the time you graduate, the world may have changed significantly. So rather aiming for a very specific application, aim for a broader area of study that encompasses that specific topic that you are interested in.

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