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I want to be a nuclear engineer

  1. Feb 27, 2005 #1
    My goal in life is to be a nuclear engineer. I'm 17, and just got a job at Mc.Donalds. When I turn 18 I'm joining the NAVY to get free colleage and to learn through a classform enviorment the mathematics and enviorment I need to know to be a submarine nuclear engineer. As long as I don't have to recruited to iraq, I'm happy. With the military, you never know. My friend Natalie was a medic in the NAVY, and she got deployed in Iraq.

    However, before I am a nuclear engineer, I want to go to colleage for game programming, and be a game developer for Nintendo. I want to go to ITT tech and do that. My passion for science and thrist for mathematics is much greater than I want to be a game developer; therefore I'd much rather be a nuclear engineer first.

    Ok. Now I have a few questions to ask.
    1) What math will I have to know?
    2) What will the job be like? What will I do?
    3) This is unrelated, but, could someone please tell me what an eigenvalue is?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2005 #2
    Math needed for an NE degree

    You don't need to do that. You can get student loans and grants. The NE job market is very hot right now and pays well. You shouldn't have any problem paying off loans when you graduate, as most NE students are recruited and have a job lined up before they graduate.

    Then you will not be happy. If you join the navy, you will go to Iraq (or perhaps Iran or North Korea).

    For the undergraduate nuclear engineering program at Oregon State University, all of the classes you need to take are listed here:

    It looks like all of the math you need to graduate would be:
    • MTH 251. Differential Calculus
    • MTH 252. Integral Calculus
    • MTH 254. Vector Calculus I
    • MTH 256. Applied Differential Equations
    • MTH 306. Matrix and Power Series Methods
    • ENGR 211. Statistics

    I would take note of the other ENGR classes, as well as the PH 211, 212, 213 classes, since those will all involve math as well.

    There are lots and lots of different NE jobs. The college recruitment literature you can get by inquiring with various colleges/universities will explain a lot about the variety of NE jobs available. You can pretty much take your pick of where you work, as long as you can get security clearances. For one example, if you would like to work with submarine nuclear propulsion technology, one option would be the http://nukeworker.com/nuke_facilities/North_America/usa/DOE_Facilities/kapl/KAPL-Schenectady.shtml [Broken]. At Knolls, the mission is to develop and do maintenance on naval reactors, as well as to train naval personnel in the operation of their reactors.

    Generally, it is any of the permissible values of a parameter in an eigenfunction (as the discrete values of the energy in the solution of the Schrodinger wave equation) where an eigenfunction is the solution of a differential equation (as the Schrodinger wave equation) satisfying specified conditions. (From M-W Unabridged 3.0.)

    Wikipedia and Wolfram.com have more information. (Mathworld.wolfram.com is a good math encyclopedia.)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  4. Feb 28, 2005 #3


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    Whoa there, turbo.

    That will never work. Honestly, few people respect vocational school graduates, especially not Japanese game programming companies. The raw truth is that ITT is not in the business to teach you to program games, and there's no chance at all of you learning anything valuable to Nintendo there. In fact, there are virtually no degrees offered anywhere that will teach you to be a game programmer. Your best bet is to major in computer science at a four-year college, and work your butt off in your free time to learn graphics inside and out.

    The second raw truth is that you will have a very hard time holding two totally disparate different professions in so short a time. Both nuclear engineering and game programming involve an investment of probably 5+ years of training and experience. You could perhaps hold both professions in a lifetime, but not before your thirties. Focus on one.

    - Warren
  5. Feb 28, 2005 #4


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    I agree with chroot. If you are serious about nuclear engineering, stay away from games and game programming. It will cost time, and people a less likely to take someone seriously who invests time in game programming.

    University Nuclear Engineering Programs:

    Texas A&M University, College Station, TX - http://nuclear.tamu.edu/home/

    PennState, State College, PA - http://www.me.psu.edu/ [Broken]

    Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN - https://engineering.purdue.edu/NE/

    University of California - Berkeley, Berkeley, CA - http://www.nuc.berkeley.edu/

    North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC - http://www.ne.ncsu.edu/

    University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL - http://www.ne.uiuc.edu/npre.html [Broken]

    University of Missouri at Rolla, Rolla, MO - http://www.nuc.umr.edu/ [Broken]

    University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI - http://www-ners.engin.umich.edu/index.shtml [Broken]

    Univerity of Wisconsin, Madison, WI - http://www.engr.wisc.edu/ep/neep/

    Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA - http://www.nre.gatech.edu/

    University of Florida, Gainesville, FL - http://www.nre.ufl.edu/

    and many others.

    Any prospective student should also check the American Nuclear Society - http://www.ans.org/pi/edu/students/careers/ . The site also lists several ANS university student chapters (http://www.ans.org/const/student/index.cgi?s=all), which would also give more links to university programs.

    The naval nuclear program is competitive. The two facilities in which the fuel and cores are designed are Bettis Atomic Power Laboratory and Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory. Bettis has the lead on new core and fuel designs for all nuclear ships. These facilities take the best people and getting a job at either is very competitive.

    In addition to the courses that hitssquad listed, one should take a course in Partial Differential Equations, and one or two courses in Applied Mathematics. Also, you will need a course in Numerical Analysis, which may be offered in the NE department, Computer Science/Engineering, or other engineering department, depending on the school.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  6. Feb 28, 2005 #5


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    I guess I should get a "plug" in here for my alma mater:

    M.I.T.: http://web.mit.edu/ned/www/

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  7. Feb 28, 2005 #6
    As long as the topic of colleges is at hand, I heard recently that it is a good idea to get your MS at a different college than you got your BS. I had planned to enroll in Georgia Tech's five year BSMS program, but because of english and health class, I do not meet the required GPA. Should I persue my MS here even though I will not make it into the program? Or should I apply for graduate school somewhere else? I love it here but I would not mind going else where, perhaps somewhere up north.
  8. Feb 28, 2005 #7
    I've been to the North Carolina State University and seen their Nuclear Engineering program at the Burlington Laboratories when I was at a summer program there. Pretty interesting, they even have their own 1 MW PULSTAR research reactor (which looks like a small box suspended in a sort of swimming pool).

    Some of the professors there are also up-to-date with all of the IAEA stuff as well, and one of them also works in plasma physics and the textile industry.

    Nuclear Engineers are in high demand these days, and if I were to go down the path of engineering NE would be my option.
  9. Feb 28, 2005 #8
    I understand you're usually required to do your graduate work at a school that is different from the one you wish to teach at (if you want to be a teacher). I don't know if there are other reasons to switch.
  10. Feb 28, 2005 #9


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    Shameless plug, Doc, Shameless plug :rofl:
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 21, 2017
  11. Feb 28, 2005 #10


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    I know - in the U.S. New and World Report issue that ranks colleges and
    universities - M.I.T.'s nuclear engineering department frequently scores as
    #1. Courtesy of University of California - Berkeley; Nuclear Engineering:


    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  12. Feb 28, 2005 #11


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    I was in the Navy, I'm not anymore, but I remain a big fan. Depending on your qualifications (ie, if your grades weren't that good and you can't get into a good college right off the bat), the Navy can be a good place to start. Loans are loans (you have to pay them back) and grants only cover a fraction of the costs - the military can (it depends on your situation/qualifications) pay for absolutely everything including a salary while you attend college.
    That simply isn't true: there is absolutely no use for a nuclear power specialist on the ground in either place and as such, there is precisely zero chance of getting sent to either place (except, of course, being in the ocean next to either place).

    QT, your friend the hospital corpsman was likely attached to a Marine Corps unit. The Marine Corps does not have its own medics. As such, Navy corpsmen are the only Navy personnel with much chance to ever see ground combat.

    MAJOR CAVEAT: Do not, under any circumstances, go into the Navy without a plan in place, ie. an guaranteed seat (guaranteed means you have your orders or something in writing in hand before you go) in nuclear power school straight out of boot camp. If you don't, you won't be sent to Iraq, but you will likely spend several years making little money, living on your ship (even in port), and chipping paint or painting every day.
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2005
  13. Mar 3, 2005 #12
    Is that the infamous Bosun's Mate job? I've heard of quite a few guys ending up with that sort of detail for exactly the reason you describe. I believe the line the recruiters use is something like 'Well, I can't guarantee anything right now, but there should be some slot opening up after initial training and it's a lot easier getting those slots coming out of initial training than now.'
  14. Mar 5, 2005 #13
    I have to say that is a horrible thing to do. I saw a documentary once about armed forces recruiters. They went to poorer parts of their area and tried to recruit 18 year olds and to convince 17 year olds to go to basic training. There's nothing wrong with being in the armed forces, but I think the way they were recruiting people was a bit underhanded (promising things like seeing the world, getting a good salary, getting to go to college for free, ect).
  15. Mar 5, 2005 #14


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    If one wants to go into the armed forces for college, I would recommend a degree first, then go into the service. With an education, especially in nuclear or aerospace engineering, one is likely to get a better position that if one enters from high school.

    The military can then sponsor graduate school. If one's grades are really good and one does some independent research, then there may be opportunities at the different R&D labs.
  16. Mar 6, 2005 #15


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    Wanted: High-school Seniors To Apply For Incoming Freshman Scholarships

    In 2005, ANS will award the first Incoming Freshman Scholarships to
    high-school seniors. The application deadline is April 1. Requirements
    and the application are on the ANS web site at:
    http://www.ans.org/goto/nad.cgi?id=1109916000-5 [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  17. Mar 28, 2005 #16
    Well, actually their graduate program is their sparkling gem. Their undergrad program compares poorly with others and is ranked artificially high.

    FYI, that came right from the mouth of the then department head of my school of Nuclear Engineering (Purdue), who had come to us from MIT.

    QuantumTheory, many of the schools offering NE degrees are good, but if you start off by enlisting in the Navy, then you'll get a better foundation than many engineers out there.
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