Decision on which college to attend; nuclear engineering interest

In summary, there is a dilemma between choosing a full-tuition scholarship at UAH for a double major in Aerospace and Mechanical or pursuing a major in nuclear engineering at a more expensive school. The parent is encouraging the son to take the scholarship and major in mechanical engineering, but also consider a minor in nuclear engineering from another school. They also mention the possibility of getting a job at a nuclear plant or pursuing a graduate degree in nuclear engineering with employer assistance. The parent is debating if they should just tell the son to go for the nuclear degree and worry about paying for it later. The conversation also includes a personal anecdote about paying off debt after graduating with an engineering degree and a discussion about the similarities and differences between mechanical and nuclear engineering.
  • #1
Both sons were offered a full-tuition scholarship at UAH and at the University of Alabama. Son 2 is going to accept at UAH and wants to do a double major in Aerospace and Mechanical.
Here's the dilemma: Son 1 really wants to major in nuclear engineering, which would require him turning down the scholarship @ UAH and going to a Penn State, which will cost much $$. I am encouraging him to take the scholarship and major in mechanical engineering ( if he does this, he will either minor or double major in Physics, he also has about 30 AP credits). I encouraged him to look at the online minor in nuclear engineering ( 15 credits) at Kansas state which you can take if you are in school at any college in an engineering discipline. I told him if he does this , he can try to get a job at a nuclear plant or other pertinent employer and seek a graduate degree in nuclear, his employer may help him pay for. Is this all too complicated, should I just tell him to go for the nuclear degree and worry about paying for it later?? I am worried if he declines the scholarship then decides he want to change his major, he is stuck. He has to decide by May 1st and we are all stressed out!
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  • #2
How much money is much $$?

In my limited experience if you are going for an engineering major, chances are you will be able to secure a good paying job upon graduation. Therefore you will easily be able to pay off a reasonable amount of debt within a few years.

I graduated with an ee degree and $40k of debt 1 year ago. I was able to pay of 18k this past year by living frugally with a great job. Going to a school and taking a major that I liked was worth it. I had the option of going to school for free, however It was not the program I was looking for. I am 100% glad I chose the path that I did.

As far as the minor in nuclear engineering goes, that might be a lot of extra work to add onto a mechanical engineering degree. However it will still be possible.

If your son really wants to do nuclear engineering at PSU, I say tell him to go for it.
  • #3
I can confidently tell you that many mechanical engineering majors get into grad school for nuclear engineering. At my school, the nuclear engineering department is a subsection of the mechanical engineering department. This is because nuclear engineers manage heat and energy from nuclear reactions and convert it to useful work. Mechanical engineers do the same thing! A mechanical engineer could specialize in nuclear engineering, but a nuclear engineer would be limited to nuclear engineering. It's a specialty degree. Make sure your son knows this...

Basically, mechanical engineering would be much more fun and safe. He could definitely work or do research as a nuclear engineer with a mechanical engineering degree. Honestly, a nuclear engineer would NOT be more qualified at the undergraduate level. Let him make his own decision but make sure he knows this.

1. What types of colleges offer nuclear engineering programs?

Nuclear engineering programs are typically offered at universities or colleges that have accredited engineering schools. These can include large public universities, private universities, and specialized technical schools.

2. What factors should I consider when deciding on a college for nuclear engineering?

Some important factors to consider when choosing a college for nuclear engineering include the program's accreditation, faculty expertise and research opportunities, facilities and equipment available, and location and cost of the school.

3. Are there specific courses or prerequisites I should have taken in high school for a nuclear engineering program?

While specific requirements may vary by institution, it is generally recommended to have a strong foundation in math and science courses, particularly in physics and chemistry, in order to succeed in a nuclear engineering program.

4. What types of career opportunities are available for graduates with a degree in nuclear engineering?

Nuclear engineering graduates can pursue careers in a variety of industries, including nuclear power, government research and development, and national defense. They may also work in areas such as medical imaging, environmental protection, and nuclear waste management.

5. How can I learn more about a specific college's nuclear engineering program?

To learn more about a college's nuclear engineering program, you can visit the school's website, attend informational sessions or open houses, speak with current students or alumni, and reach out to faculty members in the program. You can also research the program's curriculum, research opportunities, and job placement statistics.

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