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Nuclear Engineering job prospects

  1. Feb 26, 2008 #1

    Only recently have I taken an interest in Nuclear Physics. I have touched upon some of the basics in school but nothing too complicated. I am located in the UK if that helps. I have started this thread to get an insight into Nuclear Engineering. I will put some questions up below.

    What University Courses would I need to take?

    I am planning on taking a Physics Degree in a year or so, but I am at school at the moment. What qualifications do you need to succeed in this career. I would have thought for some areas you would need more than just a degree.

    Some Examples

    What examples are there of nuclear engineering? Would the work going on at CERN be related to this? I have read alot about the environmental side of nuclear engineering, and also nuclear as a source of energy. Are there any other examples?

    Job prospects

    I am sure this can vary but what chances would you have of promotion. Are there alot of stages that you can build your way up, or do you reach a peak quite early on and then find yourself in a dead end job.

    I may post some questions later as I think of some. Any response would be great. Thanks :smile:

  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2008 #2


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    Nuclear Physics is one branch of Physics, and likewise, Nuclear Engineering is a branch of engineering (I think of engineering as applied physics). However, withing Nuclear Physics and Nuclear Engineering there are a number of specialties.

    I started out studying physics (the degree would have been BS in Physics) with options in Astrophysics (Space Phyiscs) and Nuclear Physics. The curriculum basically went through the basic introductory physics (mechanics, thermodynamics, electrostatics, optics, . . . , and then modern physics, including introduction to relativity and QM, including basic Schroedinger's equation). In the second year, the EM and QM were more advanced. The upper level courses were specialties in nuclear and astrophysics.

    However, I jumped over to nuclear engineering which started with basically the same type of physics courses through introductory QM and radiation physics, but as an engineering program, I took courses in Mechanical Engineering (thermodynamics/heat transfer and fluid mechanics, corrosion), Electrical Engineering (DC/AC circuits, electric machinery (electromechanics)), Materials Science (materials science and mechanics of materials), and Computer Science (Fortran programming). Along the way I took courses in numerical analysis and numerical methods.

    The core of the nuclear engeering classes was nuclear reactor physics which dealt with neutron transport/diffusion in nuclear reactor systems and nuclear power plant design, as well as the physics of radiation interaction with materials (for shielding and structural analysis). The nuclear engineering program brings together the numerous disciplines and applies them to power generation based on nuclear processes (fission or fusion) as the primary energy source. In graduate school, I took more advanced courses in these various disciplines.

    At the moment, the job prospects are very good, especially if construction begins on new plants.

    I'll try to address some of the other questions in more detail later.
  4. Feb 27, 2008 #3
    hey Astronuc , i am going to attend nuclear engineering at Oregon State University. From this fall. How is BS nuclear engineering at oregon? Could you give me some advice. I want to go to FUsion energy in future
  5. Feb 28, 2008 #4


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    As far as I know, OSU has a good program. I'll try to outline a typical NE curriculum, and something from my own experience. Fusion is usually offered as an upper level elective, while the core courses teach nuclear (fission) reactor theory. More advanced courses in fusion would usually be taught at the graduate level, but the quality will depend on the resources avialable within a particular department.
  6. Feb 28, 2008 #5
    I plan on studying Physics at University, and then after the 3 or 4 year course I plan on taking another course but this time it will be more specific. My problem is really what part of physics to go into. I know I want to go into particle, and nuclear physics but I will firs take a normal physics degree.
  7. Feb 28, 2008 #6
    Hey _Mayday_ my best suggestion for you would be to get a BS degree in Engineering Physics , THis has better job prospects than normal physics degree, it's more rigorous. Significantly, you can studying any( most of) engineering specialisations at graduate level or go for graduate study in pure/applied physics or even mathematics, computer science...
  8. Feb 28, 2008 #7
    Thanks for the response. Is the cours eyou have suggested very much all based on mathematics? I would say I am an average student when it comes to mathematics. My strengths are calculus, is the course mostly mathematics? I am very much interested in theory behind particle physics and nuclear physics.
  9. Feb 28, 2008 #8
    Yes there is high proportion of mathematics. but don't be afraid. you can work hard in mathematics to improve. nothing comes in our head automatically, we have to study many times to understand same thing.
  10. Feb 28, 2008 #9
    I think you are in UK. I don't know whether UK has something called Engineering Physics, they may have something equivalent called BS in Applied Physics. These both are same. Only the names are different. But studying Engineering Physics makes you a engineer, however, i am not sure about applied physics. Do a lot of research ?
  11. Feb 28, 2008 #10
    Now Astronuc,
    I am a international citizen, but my father is a permanent resident in US. So i want to study in US. I have always be a top student in my class until my final year, which i screwed up for no reason. So i will end up in OSU, possibly.

    Once i start studying with my old style, I will catch up grades. Then i want to transfer to Penn State , or U Michigan, U of Illinois , or may be even try MIT.

    Right now, i have already graduated from high-school, going to a government campus to study BSc physics( i don't go regularly). And my application is under review at OSU.

    The greatest part of my confusion is that i have applied to Canadian Universities as well
    LIke McMaster , U of Toronto, U of Alberta, Queen's

    NO W i need help here. What should i do if i get an offer from McMaster/U of Toronto/OSU ? At McMaster and U of T i have applied for engieering physics
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