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Nuclear engineering courses

  1. Aug 22, 2016 #1
    Hi, what are the most important courses i am going to take ? like the bases of a nuclear engineering. Are they radiation/ nuclear theory and thermal hydraulics ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 22, 2016 #2


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    Generally in nuclear engineering programs, one takes introductory mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering courses, and the engineering course is usually related to nuclear engineering. By the second year, one should have at least one course, or possibly two, in modern physics and nuclear physics. That covers some level of atomic and nuclear physics, with some particle physics. Assuming one wishes to work with nuclear reactors and power plants, one would take allied courses in mechanical and electrical engineering. The mechanical engineering courses include thermodynamics, fluid mechanics/dynamics and heat transfer as a minimum. The electrical engineering courses include introductory circuit theory, and perhaps an advanced course in circuit theory, electromechanics/electromagnetics, since nuclear energy in nuclear power plants is primarily used for generating electrical power, but there is also instrumentation and control, and radiation detection.

    The core of the upper level involves courses in neutron physics, or reactor physics, and nuclear plant design. There are various electives, e.g., nuclear safety, environmental engineering (related to nuclear energy), radiation effects on materials (materials science and engineering related to radiation), fusion engineering, . . . . One would probably take a course in radiation protection.

    I took courses in physics, materials science and engineering, corrosion engineering, aerospace engineering, and more advanced electrical engineering courses, since I was interested in advanced concepts, including nuclear propulsion for spacecraft.
  4. Aug 23, 2016 #3
    thank you sir for the great reply, u just described the plan my university is on, I am already done with the engineering courses i am now in my third year. " i took nuclear physics / introduction to nuclear engineering in the second year, in the third i will be taking nuclear theory/ radiation detection, signals and controls, and heat transfer. My question was i am as a nuclear engineer what courses will be my bases that i am going to use in my career
  5. Aug 23, 2016 #4


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    What does one wish to do as a career?

    If one wishes to do reactor and core design, then one needs to take courses in reactor physics, thermal hydraulics, and perhaps a course in nuclear materials.
  6. Aug 23, 2016 #5

    jim hardy

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    As Astronuc said it depends on what career you choose. Of course that's a chicken-egg situation, the courses you take will influence your career opportunities and the choices you make .

    What are your interests ?
    Do you love tinkering with tools and machinery ? If so look to practical courses like reactor operation and special lab projects helping professors perform experiments .
    If you prefer just studying and love Vector Calculus & computer simulations take nuclear physics and reactor design courses. Learn finite element modelling.

    My own experience was this -
    i wanted to take "Reactor Operation" out of sheer curiosity. The prerequisite for that was a three credit course in Reactor Physics. I struggled with the maths of diffusion and buckling in that course but absolutely loved coming to understand how the reactor works and basic electronic reactor instrumentation.. Afterward i went to work in a power plant , surrounded by interesting machinery which was rather a paradise.

    The courses that benefited me most were of course Reactor Physics and Reactor Operation, Thermodynamics, and my EE Circuit Analysis and Electric Machinery courses.

    A nuke plant is a reactor surrounded by huge amounts of machinery to move the heat. 90% of the work in a plant deals with the surrounding machinery.
    So for a career in nuclear power you'll benefit from a wide skillset including basic mechanical, electrical, and materials disciplines.
    Actually a straight Physics degree works well because it's so fundamental to all disciplines. One of my most esteemed and successful associates (initials VAK if he's reading) is a Physics major.

    That's my view from the trenches.
    Perhaps someone who's had a more academic oriented career will share their experience.

    old jim
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2016
  7. Aug 24, 2016 #6
    thank you sirs for the great info, I am still an undergrad student nuclear engineering student" third year " so I dont know a lot specially because i am from a third world country and professors in my uni are really smart but they lack of experience age thing. seems like you sirs have along time experience so please can anyone answer this " do u think that there is a future for nuclear energy in general ? Is it hard to find a job in Europe for an Arab/Jordanian like how nationality can determine your career specially when its a critical job like a nuclear engineer, and thank you again
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