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Minor in Nuclear Engineering?

  1. May 23, 2010 #1
    This upcoming fall semester I plan on basically starting a B.S. in physics at NC State University. I have talked to a couple of post docs and professors, and they told me that maybe minoring in an applied area would be a good idea if I wasn't sure if I want to go to grad school after graduation. My school has a Nuclear Engineering program, and also offers a minor. Would it be worth my time/money to take 4 courses to obtain a minor in NE?

    The required courses for the minor are:

    NE 201 Introduction to Nuclear Engineering (2cr)
    NE 202 Radiation Sources, Interaction and Detection (4cr)
    NE 301 Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering (4cr)

    and here are the electives(I need to take 2)

    NE 400 Nuclear Reactor Energy Conversion 2 (4cr)
    NE 401 Rector Analysis and Design (4cr)
    NE 402 Reactor Engineering (4cr)
    NE 404/504 Radiation Safety and Shielding (3cr)
    NE 409/509 Nuclear Materials (4cr)
    NE 412/512 Nuclear Fuel Cycles (3cr)
    NE 528 Introduction to Plasma Physics and Fusion Energy (3cr)

    note the last course. I could take that and it would go with my physics degree as a technical elective, so really instead of 5 courses outside the physics program, its 4.

    The courses sound kind of interesting in their own way. I don't plan on going into engineering, but I wouldn't mind getting a minor in it if it could help at all with career options.
  2. jcsd
  3. May 23, 2010 #2


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    After the required courses, I'd recommend

    NE 401 Rector Analysis and Design (4cr)
    NE 402 Reactor Engineering (4cr)

    but then I'd also recommend

    NE 409/509 Nuclear Materials (4cr)

    When you're done, send me your resume.
  4. May 23, 2010 #3
    Aside from the courses your recommended, would obtaining the minor really mean anything to an employer compared to someone who just majored in some kind of engineering?

    thanks for the quick reply
  5. May 23, 2010 #4


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    That would depend on the employer. Utilities are looking for folks who can fit into operations. Vendors and DOE are looking for folks who fit into production, technology development or research - which may be hardware or software/codes.

    I think an engineer with a physics background (or physics major with some engineering, or engineering physics) has an edge.

    Besides the core nuclear engineering courses, most nuclear engineering programs require courses in thermodynamics, fluid mechanics, and EE courses in circuits and electromechanics (transformers and generator/motors).

    I presume one will do nuclear physics, if not done already.
  6. May 24, 2010 #5
    The only thing with taking NE 401 is that I would have all the prerequisites except MAE 310 which is Engineering Thermodynamics. I wonder if they would wave that prerequisite since by the time I would take NE 401 I would have already taken PY 413 which is Thermal Physics. Seems reasonable that they would let me take it, but they could be anal about that kind of stuff.
  7. May 24, 2010 #6


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    If you are looking to get a job right after getting a B.S. then I would recommend a full nuclear engineering major. A double major or minor in mechanical engineering or physics would help your job prospects, but industries are generally looking for that engineering degree first. Having only a minor in the engineering part, especially if that means skipping the thermo classes, will be detrimental unless you have some very specific field in mind.
  8. May 26, 2010 #7
    They want that class for good reason. I had to retake reactor engineering because I had a weak background in thermodynamics. You'll also want a good grasp of differential equations for mass and heat transfer problems you'll have to solve.

    The ME and NRE majors at my university differed only by nine classes (~30 credits) and I knew a few that pursued double majors. It was difficult to keep up with, even for my very talented friends but it can be done.
  9. May 26, 2010 #8
    Well I just found out today I cannot pursue a minor in engineering unless I am in the College of Engineering. Bleh this sucks! I could go for engineering and do a minor in physics however...but I really want to take the upper level physics courses... O well. I'm sure the physics courses will be enough to deal with by themselves.
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