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Research Area for Nuclear Engineering Ph.D

  1. Oct 14, 2016 #1
    So I'm currently a senior undergraduate nuclear engineer at a respected university and I've been considering getting my Ph.D for a while now. I'm having difficulty deciding on a specific research area, however. I'd like my research, optimally, to be applicable outside the nuclear sector as well (the industry seems to fluctuate and I don't want to be out of a job because of my specialty). Sadly, what I find most interesting is advanced reactors, such as the Transatomic and TerraPower designs. I know the likelihood of landing a job with one of these companies is slim to none, so I don't think I'm willing to put all of my eggs in that basket.

    That leaves me, for the most part, deciding between computation and materials science. Both research areas are great and well-funded for the schools I'm considering. My question is, which area has the greatest job demand now, and in the future? I feel like I'm interested in both, but haven't had enough experience with either to make a well-informed decision at the moment, so any feedback regarding either path would be appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 15, 2016 #2


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    These days, it's both - computational multiphysics. The major development in advanced nuclear systems is the agglomeration or coupling of neutronics, thermal hydraulics and materials behavior into a single computational system. Any of those three could provide for a career, but now, companies want someone whose expertise spans the three areas, along with the ability to understand the theory and computational methods, which includes computational/mathematical theory.

    Materials science and engineering is an interesting area, since a single alloy system can be complicated by itself. One needs to understand how a given alloy will perform in its intended environment, given the variability in fabrication and design uncertain, which is then compounded by the operating environment, with further uncertainties.
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