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

Nuclear Engineering graduate school advice?

  1. Jun 29, 2010 #1
    I plan to graduate after this year from an undergraduate program in Electrical Engineering. I was torn between nuclear engineering and electrical for undergrad, but I opted for EE with the plan to do NE for graduate school. I learn best in lab settings/hands on, so I am only considering schools that have reactors (think it would be a great learning opportunity). So far I am considering the following programs:

    Texas A&M University
    North Carolina State University (may be a stretch due to its popularity)
    Kansas State University
    University of Florida
    Idaho State University
    Purdue University (may be a stretch due to its popularity)
    Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

    My interests in the NE field are broad, but I know that I do not plan to research thermal hydraulics or purely computational things. Radiation detection/protection, reactor/core design, health physics, medical physics, and plasma physics are a few things that interest me.

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2010 #2
    oh, I forgot to add, UW-Madison and Missouri Institute of Science and Technology...and possible U-Missouri

    sorry for the huge list, but I am trying to narrow it down this summer before application season starts (personally I have removed Purdue, but I figured I would mention it since many people would probably bring it up)
  4. Jun 30, 2010 #3


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    There's also

    Georgia Tech
    Penn State University
    University of California - Berkeley
    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
    University of Michigan
    University of Tennessee - Knoxville

    to name a few others.

    My school had a small 1W AGN-201 and a TRIGA reactor. Each student only did a startup of the TRIGA once as part of a class, but some students who worked there did multiple startups and operation as part of their employment. We did various experiments on neutron flux measurement and activation.

    It's a mistake to write off a program because it doesn't have a reactor.

    The program should depend on one's interest(s).
  5. Jul 8, 2010 #4
    I definitely agree with Astronuc that writing off a program without a reactor is a bad idea.

    I can only give advice from two programs personally, though I recently went through the grad app process and know a bit about some other programs.

    I recently graduated from GT with a BS. Decided very strongly not to stay. The program seems to be shifting towards a radiation transport/medical physics type program. Additionally, the graduate coursework is very limited, especially in reactor topics. In general, I would say to avoid the program unless you want to do materials (Deo) or plasma research (Stacey...a world-renowned physicist in both nodal methods and plasma tech.).

    I applied to A&M, Berkeley, MIT, and UMich for grad school. Though the only school I visited was Michigan. Through bg research, A&M's program seemed very strong with some good reactor-based research and Berkeley's didn't really catch my eye.

    I might be fairly biased since I'll be going to UMich, but I was completely impressed when I visited. I interviewed with several professors who seemed to all have interesting research ranging from hybrid methods to cold neutron sources to crazy plasmas you can hold in your hand. Additionally, the available coursework in reactor physics is amazing. Many schools don't have enough faculty to support that many classes.

    It is also important to state that though UMich doesn't have a reactor (it did...just not anymore) it is still a top program. A lot of good can come from a reactor, but a lot of reactor work is computational, really deeming a reactor as just a bragging point.

    Thoughts on other schools:
    Supposedly, NC State has a good program as well. UIUC seems to have a top undergrad program, but not grad. Wisconsin is good for plasma and thermal hydraulics. Penn State has a reactor and some irradiation facilities. KSU is one that very few students know about (Shultis and Faw) are really among the only two names from KSU people have heard, IMO.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook