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Nuclear engineering Subfields

  1. Jun 18, 2013 #1
    Hi everyone,

    I will be a college freshman this fall, however, next spring I have to take upper division courses in nuclear engineering. Thus, I would like to learn more about each area of study.
    Below are all the options offered by Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Department.

    I would like to ask a few questions:
    1/What is "beam and accelerator applications"? What careers options are offered for that subfield?
    2/What is "Homeland Security and Nonproliferation"? What types of work will I be exposed for that area of study?
    3/Which area would expose me to a variety of career options?

    Beam and Accelerator Applications:
    Physics 110A/B (or EE 117), 129, 139, 142; NE 155, 180

    Bionuclear Engineering:
    BioE C165; EE 120 (EE 20N is a prerequisite for this course), C 145B; NE 107, 162

    Fission Power Engineering:
    ME 106, 109 (Chem E 150A may be substituted for ME 106 and 109); NE 120, 124, 155, 161, 167, 175

    Fusion Power Engineering:
    Physics 110A/B, 142; NE 120, 180, 155

    Homeland Security and Nonproliferation:
    Chemistry 143, Physics 110A/B, 111, NE 102, 107, 130, 155, 175

    Materials in Nuclear Technology:
    MSE 102, 104, 112, 113; NE 120, 124, 155, 161

    Nuclear Fuel Cycles and Waste Management:
    Chem E 150A/B; E 120; Energy Resources Group 151; MSE 112; NE 120, 124, 155, 161, 175

    Radiation and Health Physics:
    NE 102, 120, 155, 162, 180

    Risk, Safety and Systems Analysis:
    CE 193; Chem E 150A; E 120; IEOR 166; NE 120, 124, 155, 161, 167, 175

    Thank you
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 19, 2013 #2


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    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Beam and accelerator applications refers to more nuclear physics type work - e.g. the details of particle interactions, characterizing cross sections, etc.

    Homeland security/proliferation is all about deep shielding detection problems, using codes such as MCNP. E.g. how to design a detector that is sensitive enough to reliably detect a nuclear weapon or dirty bomb through shielding or a shipping container.

    Health Physics is the science of how to determine dose rates from radiation fields, how to minimize dose, etc,. These are typically jobs at nuclear power plants or processing facilities. Not to be confused with Nuclear Medicine, which is more about how to produce, use, detect and image the human body using radioactive isotopes or for cancer treatments.

    Risk and safety analysis is about applying statistics to complicated interacting systems to minimize the chances of simultaneous things going wrong leading to accidents, e.g. probabilistic risk assessment.

    Nuclear fuel cycles and waste management is about the operation of commercial nuclear power plants.

    Materials in nuclear engineering is about the science of radiation interaction with various materials and its effects, such as radiation growth.

    If you want to work at a nuclear power plant, focus on fission engineering and fuel cycle/waste management.

    If you want to work for a nuclear technology vendor (e.g. Westinghouse), focus on nuclear materials, or risk and safety systems.

    If you want to work at a national lab, focus on homeland security/nonproliferation.

    If you want a non-engineering job at a power plant or other radiation science facility, take health physics or bionuclear engineering.

    If you want a job at a university or doing research, take fusion power engineering or beam/accelerator applications.
  4. Jun 23, 2013 #3
    Nuclear materials, nonproliferation, fission engineering ...
    Thanks for the info.
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