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Nuclear Engineers - Stuck Working in Desolate Areas?

  1. Jul 11, 2005 #1

    I’m currently working on a nuclear engineering major with a minor in business administration. I absolutely love what I am learning about. There is nothing more I'd rather be doing; I’ve been passionate about nuclear energy from a young age. That being said, I’m a little stressed about where I am going to end up once I’m done with grad school.

    All the places I’ve looked at that hire nuclear engineers tend to be somewhat in the middle of nowhere. I’m thinking places like Idaho national labs, Los Alamos, Y12, Pantex, Hanford or pretty much any utility. The labs and power generation stations alike all seem to be away from large urban centers.

    Something that is important to me is living in a large urban center. I love the culture and variety of experiences a big city has to offer. Considering this, I’m starting to worry that I am going to be stuck living in some rural area due to my career choice. I know some of those places have small cities nearby – for example I’ve been to TriCities/Hanford already, but that is still not very acceptable to me.

    Is this something where I am just going to have to suck it up and live somewhere that makes me unhappy? Or perhaps is there something I am missing here? Also, I am approaching this with the mindset that nuclear engineers work for either DOE labs, the navy, or power utilities. Are there other good jobs for nuclear engineers that I am missing here?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 11, 2005 #2
    eh, i'm in the navy, so my nuke work will be on a carrier. at least there are ports every couple of weeks.
  4. Jul 11, 2005 #3
    Yeah, navy could be exciting but they probably wouldnt touch me as I get seasonal allergies/asthma from pollens sometimes during the first few weeks of spring
  5. Jul 11, 2005 #4
    Are there many opportunities for you to live in Manhattan, no, but it's not quite as bleak as you think.

    A map of north american plants can be found here:


    Some plants/facilities near (within 30-60 miles) major cites:
    Argonne - Chicago
    GE/Brunswick - Wilmington
    Westinghouse - Pittsburgh
    Dresden/Braidwood - Chicago
    Perry- Cleveland
    Indian Point - New York
    Pilgrim - Boston
    Turkey Point - Miami
  6. Jul 11, 2005 #5


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    Well out at see, there is little in the way of pollen. :biggrin:

    jdsneeder gave some possibilities.

    While the generating stations are mostly out in the middle of nowhere, many main offices are in metropolitan areas. Exelon (Chicago suburbs), Entergy (Jackson, MS), Duke Power (Charlotte) are in major cities or suburbs.

    The manufacturers are GE/GNF (Wilmington, NC), Westinghouse/BNFL (Columbia, SC), and Framatome (Lynchburg, VA and Richland, WA (Richland/Pasco/Kennewick).

    Then there are the NRC (Washington DC) or National Labs - Los Alamos (Los Alamos, near Santa Fe, NM) or Oak Ridge National Labs (ORNL - near Knoxville).
  7. Jul 11, 2005 #6


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    Science Advisor

    How about:

    Argonne - suburban Chicago
    Bettis Atomic Power Lab- Pittsburgh
    Brookhaven - Long Island - suburban New York
    DOE HQ - Washington D.C.
    FermiLab - suburban Chicago
    Nuclear Regulartory Com. - Washington D.C
    Knolls Atomic Power Labs - Schenecdady, NY
    Lawrence Berkeley - suburban San Francisco
    Lawrence Livermore - suburban San Francisco
    Stanford Linear Accelerator - suburban San Francisco

    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  8. Jul 11, 2005 #7
    Excellent, thank you all for your replies. I really appreciate it. Looks like I was looking in all the wrong places for sure :smile:
  9. Jul 11, 2005 #8
    Take a look at monster.com and type in "nuclear engineer" or nrc.gov or doe.gov and take a look through the postings.

    Note that many of the .gov jobs other than the NRC require advanced degrees.

    It's also my gut feeling that there are many more opportunities in the utility side.

    Good luck.
  10. Jul 12, 2005 #9


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    Gold Member

    Los Alamos isn't so far from Sante Fe and Albequerque, which while not world class metropolises are not bad places to live. And, if you end up working on say, waste disposal, Yucca Mountain isn't far from Vegas. Both are also largely allergen free.

    Now, Idaho, well, every field has posting that should command extra pay and that is one of them.
  11. Jul 12, 2005 #10


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    Staff: Mentor

    Actually, INL has some cool stuff going on.

    I was talking with a guy there about their hotcells. It seems they will be ramping up there for some PIE.


    And the Advanced Reactor program.


    If you like the outdoors - Idaho Falls is a great location.
  12. Jul 13, 2005 #11


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    Science Advisor


    Yes - a friend of mine lives in Idaho Falls; he used to work at
    Argonne-West, and now heads up an office that supplies the analysis
    codes for reactor reload calculations.

    He likes to ski in the winter, and climb mountains in the summer.

    Idaho Falls is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Jackson Hole, Wyoming;
    which has the Grand Targhee ski area, as well as the Teton Mountains.

    It's a bit remote - but it's a "playground" for the super-rich.


    Dr. Gregory Greenman
  13. Jul 14, 2005 #12
    I’m working towards getting an internship at INL next summer (or with Exelon). I'm very interested in some of the things going on up there, but the geographical location was the big thing putting me off. That's not at all how I envisioned it. Perhaps Idaho Falls could be fun, thanks for the different perspective on that.
  14. Jul 14, 2005 #13
    That could be interesting; however, I wonder if that place will actually open because of all the bureaucracy associated with it...

  15. Jul 18, 2005 #14
    This is just a general guideline, but if you're dead set on doing research work or being a code peon for an industry giant, then by all means go to grad school (but drop the BA minor, it won't do anything for you). If you want to work at utilities or be a civilian contractor to the Navy, just get your BS and do a co-op or internship along the way. Go to Navy OCS if you hate yourself.

    Yes, a vast majority of the power plants are not real close to large cities. If you live in a decent sized city, you can expect at least a 30 min drive to work, but don't be surprised as that gets near an hour.

    Labs are another thing. Yes there are labs associated with various large cities, but that requires the Ph.D (9 times out of 10) and not every lab may be doing something you want to do or would be needed for.

    When it comes down to it, nuclear power and big cities aren't generally mixed.

    I'm the reactor engineer at Summer station outside of Columbia, SC, if you're curious. I came from Indianapolis originally and have found great frustration trying to match my own desire to live in a city versus plant locations. :grumpy:
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