Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Mechanical Engineer at a Nuclear Power Plant

  1. Jun 30, 2012 #1
    Can anyone tell me who is a Mechanical Engineer and works in a Nuclear Power Plant, just what their daily duties include? How they like the work environment and such. I'm interested in knowing because as a student, my university has a Co-op program. Recently, I sent out my resume to FirstEnergy and they want to set up an interview at one of their Nuclear Power Plants they over see. It seems pretty promising and definitely an interesting place to work at. I would have to say my top 2 career choices for later on would be Aerospace Engineering and Nuclear Engineering.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 2, 2012 #2
    The duties of a mech eng at a nuclear plant are quite varied, but generally it is solving small problems (like a valve manufacturer has changed the part numbers for a bonnet seal, someone has to confirm that the parts with e new numbers are the same as the old parts) to quite large problems (like we need to install a third emergency diesel generator). And everything in between. The safety equipment gets tested every month, someone needs to watch the results for slow degradation over time. The NRC inspector has questions, someone needs to provide the answers. Another plant found a problem with valves from XYZ company -- someone needs to see if we have the same valves. Operations department says this pump sounds funny. There is a small crack in this pipe support...

    If you work inside the plant you will learn how to get dressed up to prevent you from contaminating yourself, and you will go into places and see things that your fellow students will never see.

    One thing is, when these problems come up they will call you in, even if it is in the night, and you have to drag yourself in to work.

    If you have any interest in it, an internship is the very best thing you could do. And even if you don't end up in the nuclear power business, it will be a very cool way to spend a few months.
  4. Jul 3, 2012 #3
    That sounds pretty interesting and like you said would be a great learning experience. My other question is, how much of the time would you be suited up to protect against radiation while working in a nuclear power plant? The job description said that I'd be in an office 40% of the time and in the plant 60% of the time.
  5. Jul 3, 2012 #4
    gmax covered most of the possible duties. I will add that most of your duties will likely revolve around maintenance of the plant and you may not be involved at all in the actual nuclear components of the plant. Most likely you'll help with equipment procurement, maintenance schedules, etc. You probably won't be 'suited up' at all unless if for some reason they want you to go into containment, which is rather unlikely.

    Be ready to document everything you do in a nuclear plant. There is certainly a lot of red tape, which is why I preferred my co-op at a coal plant compared to my friends at a nuke plant. Regardless, a co-op in a nuke plant would still be a great career experience for you. I really enjoyed being 'in the field' so to speak as opposed to the office jobs I've held since.

    Best of luck!
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook