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Engineering Nuclear Engineering - Viable?

  1. Jun 29, 2010 #1
    Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    Just a quick question. I'm considering the possibility of changing majors from aerospace to nuclear engineering, and I'm rather curious what the future for the profession looks like. Given the tendency for the public to be very shy towards nuclear power, and the fact that noone seems willing to invest in nuclear energy, is it career suicide to go that route? If I were to go into nuclear engineering, it would be to work in the power generation industry. I could possibly take a research route for fusion technology, but I'm more interested in fission generation.
     
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  3. Jun 29, 2010 #2
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    From what I've read in the papers there's going to be a lot of new nuclear plants built in the coming decades. The problem is that most of them are going to be in developing countries, such as China (forgot the exact number, but it was huge, in terms of tens), India and others, so I'm not sure how relevant that may be to you. I did say most, however, and I reckon North American countries and Europe are going to be building some new ones, as well. Plus, Germany is strongly considering going back to not shutting down nuclear plants, and the Swedes have also done so. Where I live currently a new plant is also being strongly considered, and both the lay and professional opinion is heavily favouring it. In Canada, a new project called ALICE (in the TRIUMPH facility) has also been launched, and Iran is no stranger to nuclear power, either :)

    Now I'm not an expert on this, so take this with a pinch of salt. I do follow the news and what's going on in the world, however, and, well, my understanding is that nuclear power will not die, at least not in the coming decades. I believe it's actually going to be a surge of sorts, but what happens after that surge is anyone's guess. Still, I can't really see wind, biomass and solar energy covering all of the world's rising energy needs, and I'm pretty sure we're not going to go back to coal, oil and gas (gas is considered only as something transitional until we find cleaner, better and most of all renewable sources). Hope this helps, but I'm sure others with more knowledge in the field will chime in, as well in no time.
     
  4. Jun 29, 2010 #3
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    I'm not an expert on this either, but I am going into UTk's Nuclear Engineering program this fall. From what I have heard internationally the industry is very strong, countries like France, South Africa, Japan, and China are building reactors or are currently maintaining them. Countries like South Korea are designing them for other countries like Jordan, and other middle eastern states.

    The problem is that the industry is just now restarting in North America. Canada is currently operating a few reactors and is planning to build more I believe. (Check the post above.) Where I live in Georga, plant Voglte is being build but is progressing slowly. It is the first reactor to be approved for construction since Three Mile Island I believe.

    The industry is very strong out of the country and seems to be picking up in the states. I have talked to a few students and graduates, most say their friends in nuclear engineering got offered jobs before they even graduated. So you never know.

    Hope this helps.
     
  5. Jul 4, 2010 #4
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    Thanks for the replies, I suppose I should consider other countries (I'm a stereotypical ethnocentric American). I was kinda hoping to get the opinion of someone involved in nuclear engineering though.
     
  6. Jul 4, 2010 #5
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    For curiosity's sake what school do you go to?
     
  7. Jul 4, 2010 #6
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    Texas A&M, or I will be next year anyway.
     
  8. Jul 5, 2010 #7
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    That is a very good school for it.
     
  9. Jul 8, 2010 #8
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    I wanted to go to A&M, but out of state costs killed me. Submarines and large ships also run on nuclear power. That would be another industry all together, but still providing power. But, why aerospace to nuclear? If I could, I would minor in one or the other.
     
  10. Jul 8, 2010 #9
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    My interests are such that either aerospace or nuclear would appeal. When I've gone digging for information in debates about nuclear power (I'm a nuclear power advocate, but that's off-topic), I've discovered something of a passion. I know it's not quite nuclear engineering to know what criticality is, but the field fascinates me nevertheless. My career choice will be based entirely around my interests, but I won't enter a dead job field.

    That having been said, my choice is still at least two year's away. I just wanted to know if nuclear engineering is a viable field to enter.
     
  11. Jul 8, 2010 #10
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    Have you thought about petroleum engineering? A&M has the best program in the world, and I think (from conversations with people in the oil business) that PEs will be in short supply.
     
  12. Jul 8, 2010 #11
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    I considered it briefly, but as I advocate for the dissolution of the fossil fuel industry, I feel it would be somewhat hypocritical of me to go into a fossil fuel oriented profession. Nuclear and aerospace are really the only ones that have ever enthralled me -- and nuclear is something of a recent development.
     
  13. Jul 8, 2010 #12

    Astronuc

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    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    Well - it's kept me busy for 25 years, and I'll be busy for another 25. :biggrin:
     
  14. Jul 8, 2010 #13
    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    That's encouraging, but with the trend away from nuclear power, don't you worry about your job security?
     
  15. Jul 8, 2010 #14

    Astronuc

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    Re: Nuclear Engineering -- Viable?

    I don't see a trend away from nuclear. At the moment, I'm the busiest I've ever been, and I'm pretty busy for the forseeable future.

    I do recommend that engineering students obtain a diverse background in engineering and physics. In addition to learning basic mechanical engineering, aerospace or nuclear engineering, I recommend course work in materials science and mechanics of materials. I strongly recommend at least an MS degree, and a PhD if there is interest in advancing the technology.

    The critical areas for nuclear engineering are in materials performance in the nuclear reactor environment. Knowing multiphysics analysis is very helpful. Experience with FEA and CFD is also very beneficial.
     
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