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How does one become an I&C engineer?

  1. Jun 13, 2009 #1
    I'm at the career exploration stage of my life and currently enrolled in a Computer engineering program. Can you give me a typical path to becoming an I&C engineer in the Nuclear/Oil&Gas/Manufacturing industries? Typical required courses, education levels, entry level jobs would be valuable information.

    Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 18, 2009 #2
    I know the nuclear industry best, so my answer is directed toward that industry. Oil and gas, other applications, I don't know.

    The US nuclear industry is a direct outgrowth of the US Navy Nuclear Power Program. If you actually want to work at a plant, there is one way, and one way only, to get in. You must pass through the Navy Nuclear Power Program. Which means, of course, that you must be male. If this is what you want, enlist either before or after you get your degree as an Interior Communication Electrician for six years in the Nuclear Power Program, and volunteer for submarines.

    As for the academics. A good program would be engineering physics with a double major in electrical engineering. Emphasis on the physics side would be transducer physics, including scintillator operation, GM tube physics, ion chamber physics, and fission chamber physics. Emphasis on the electrical engineering side would be linear and digital design, a whalloping big dose of software engineering, and a thorough grounding in real-time operating system. You might want to top all this off with an M.Sc. in nuclear engineering.

    The market for these skills is somewhat tight in the US right now, but companies which do hire this sort of thing are Babcock & Wilcox, GE, Westinghouse, General Atomics, Gamma Metrics, Apantec, Canberra.

    Good luck. Study hard.

    - Catherwood.
  4. Jun 21, 2009 #3
    Thanks for the reply Catherwood!

    I'm in Canada and I'm not 100% on this but I think one could get hired directly through a company or utility.

    It seems to me that for Nuclear controls the practitioner would need to be a Nuclear engineer first and foremost before an Electrical/Computer/Software engineer? This makes a lot of sense to me but I was still wondering... I was hoping that an engineer with I&C skills would be flexible across multiple industries.
  5. Jun 21, 2009 #4
    Ah, yes - Canada. My home and native land, if I could only get a job there. Whatever you do, do not - repeat DO NOT - get an undergraduate degree in the US. One of the things you will have to do in order to be hireable in Canada is to join the Engineering Guild, and they simply do not accept foreign degrees. But enough of that.

    Your choices are narrowed considerably. McMaster and I believe U Toronto have nuclear engineering programs. There are two others for a total of four, but for some reason I believe the other two have military links so I didn't investigate them.

    Here is what to do. Make those SOBs in the Engineering Guilds work for you for a change, and contact them as soon as possible. There is Ontario Professional Engineering Association and New Brunswick Professional Engineering Association, although the bulk of the nuclear industry is in Ontario. If you want to do chem eng I&C, your best bet is OPEA or Alberta Professional Engineering and Geophysicists Association (APEGGA). See if they will help you plan out an academic program. OPEA seems more approachable (if more expensive) but I would not at all be surprised if APEGGA flat blew you off.

    There are two other resources you can muster. Canadian Association of Physicists and Canadian Nuclear Society. Both these organizations are much more approachable than the Engineering Guilds, and CNS especially can give you advice on planning a program. If you wish, I may even have a phone number or two laying around.

    Now, here's the deal on engineering in Canada. It is pretty much a closed shop. If you want to do engineering or call yourself an engineer you have to certify with the Association in your province as a Professional Engineer. There is no way around it, these are "self regulating" organizations who have managed to capture a regulatory function (look up "rent seeking behaviour" on Wikipedia). One of the requirements for membership is an undergraduate degree from an approved Canadian (they say generally ABET but they discount US degrees) ABET accredited program. It helps if the university is in the province you plan to practice in. If you have this, pretty much you're in the pipeline, but if you don't have this I wish you luck because you'll need it.

    What province are you in? I might have some phone numbers laying about.

    With best regards,
    - Catherwood
  6. Jun 22, 2009 #5
    (the next morning)...

    Here is a link to the Canadian Nuclear Society website.

    http://www.cns-snc.ca/home_eng.html [Broken]

    Here is a link to the Canadian Association of Physicists Society website.


    Here is a link to the Engineering Physics program at McMaster University. If you contact
    Dr. Paul Jessop he can help you.


    List of Canadian nuclear engineering programs. I remember what the issue with the fourth
    program was - language of instruction is French and my French is strictly of the soup-can


    Good luck. Let me know how things come out.

    - Catherwood
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  7. Jun 24, 2009 #6
    Thanks Catherwood, this is truly a wealth of information. Ill most definitely keep you up to date on how it goes.
  8. Oct 24, 2009 #7
    I am currently working an outage in a nuclear plant. Half of the I&C tech there have come from a tech school 2 year degree in Power Plant Technologies, or a 2 year I&C school. Basically they just need you to have some sort of degree and then they start you off by training you until you complete your training. Some Nukes like the one in TX even pay you to go to school (2 years) and work for them. I believe they pay 22$ for you to go there, I am actually concidering TX or Palo Verde in AZ.
    GL hope it helps
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