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What is stuied in Nuclear Engineering?

  1. Mar 21, 2008 #1
    Hi all,

    I always wanted to go for an Engineering degree because I want Math.

    I am thinking about going for a Nuclear Engineering degree. I live in PA and tail to tail in PA North to South and East to West, there only one College/University offers Nuclear Engineering and it's Penn State.

    What is studied in that major as for Undergraduate? What is studied in the Nuclear Reactors? Correct me if I am wrong, I believe Penn State may or may not have the Fusion option? Without having that option does it get into any Fusion? I have been told by someone on this forum to talk to someone from the College and maybe visit the campus.

    Before even talking or visiting, I really would like to know what is required in the degree? Let's take the top 5 Engineering degrees. I don't know what the top degrees are but I asked before and never got an answer. Which Engineering degrees has the most Math? I really wasn't looking at Electrical Engineering. Thank you everyone.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 22, 2008 #2
    Here's Penn State's nuclear engineering curriculum: http://www.mne.psu.edu/undergrad/ugmanuals/NucE_Manual/NucE_inside_back_cover.htm

    Courses cover the basic math and physics need for more advanced classes, and the advanced classes cover how the reactor operates from the core to the secondary side.

    Fusion or a plasma physics course might be a techanical elective you could take, that's what I did, but most undergraduate courses seem to prepare people for working in or with the current nuclear industry, so fission reactors will be studied more.
  4. Mar 24, 2008 #3


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    If you are truly interested in math, why go into engineering? Just study Math.
  5. Apr 13, 2008 #4
    I'm a nuke engineer, and recommend you go into the field, because in about 5 years there will be a serious brain drain due to retirements and attrition. You'll be in big demand by the NRC, DOE, and nuclear utilities. Not to mention there is always the Int'l Atomic Energy Agency which needs more American staff..
  6. Apr 25, 2008 #5
    You should visit the department of mechanical and nuclear engineering. I visited about a year ago. During the visit I learned a lot about their program and they took me on a tour of the reactor.
  7. Apr 25, 2008 #6


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    There's already a brain drain at NRC/DOE/vendors and utilities. Most of the folks who developed the technology 30, 40, 50 years ago are gone. In the US, we haven't started a plant in years, and the last ones were completed and brought on-line in the last 1980's.

    Orders have been placed for some large forgings for at least two ABWRs in the US, with several more order for large components pending. On top of that, we're pushing the envelope on current technology.
  8. Jun 9, 2008 #7
    just a note

    i remember my instructor once telling me the " Zap Zap and your sterile" and he used to work in the nuclear industry and he was only cationing us in working around a nuclear densitomiter
    great industry to work in / alot of nice people
  9. Jul 1, 2008 #8
    Nuclear Engineering is a great field to be entering... the nuclear renaissance is upon us, with tons of new reactors on order. Basically, you'll be very in demand once you get your degree. As for math, depending on how strongly applied physics based the program you choose is, you can do a lot of math. It's applied math... differential equations and all that, not abstract algebra or anything. If you want to do pure math, do math, not engineering.

    Neutron (and charged particles, for medical physics) transport uses a lot of math. That basically involves following neutrons as they pass through materials and react. Lots of math. There are also a lot of equations involved with tracking the neutronics and transients in reactors, though this is basically transport deep down.

    Fusion can have a lot of math... especially if you attack it from the plasma physics side, as opposed to the materials/engineering side. However, it's pretty hard to get funding in fusion right now, so you need to take that into consideration, at least for graduate school. You will probably mostly study fission reactors in undergrad, but fusion is really interesting (and is the future, in my opinion), so go to a school with some amount of interest in it.
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