What major would be the most promising for a career in fusion?

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Hello. Currently, I am a high school junior that has completed AP Physics C: Mechanics with a 4 on the exam, and I am in Calc 2 at the Univ of Oklahoma. I have, over the last two years, developed a great interest in physics, and for a long time have had interest in combatting climate change/global warming by going into the renewable energy industry.

For some time, I have been set on nuclear engineering due to the assumption that nuclear engineering bachelors➡Nuclear engineering doctorate (obviously masters in there too)➡Potentially working with fusion. But, with my newfound interest in physics, I’ve been thinking about going into nuclear physics, and I’ve also heard that it may be more beneficial for where I want to go. Should I simply go into environmental if I want to work with renewable energy? So, here’s my swathe of questions:

1.) I plan to go to UC Berkeley, but I am also considering UCSD, or transferring to Berkeley later on. Going here, which programme would be ideal to go into - NE or N. Physics?

2.) I don’t want to take the “easy” way out, but if this is extensive and things don’t work out, should I just go into environmental engineering?

3.) In general, given the info I wrote, is NE or physics more promising?

Thanks in advance.
 
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That very much depends - what, in particular, do you want to work on? Do you want to be working on computational models of atomic interactions or more fundamental experimental research, or do you want to work more on the application side? That would decide whether you do nuclear engineering or nuclear physics.

I can't speak for Berkeley, but at many universities, the first semester of coursework is about the same for a physics vs. engineering major (maybe 1 or 2 classes different). It might be wise to pick one, and then once you get there, seek out some graduate students in groups that do what you are interested in, and then choose :)
 
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The thought of experimental research interests me more, however I believe that applications are just as important and interesting. I guess this is when I need to look more into both. Thank you :D.
 
  • #4
I'm in a somewhat similar situation as you, except I will be starting my undergraduate education in physics this fall. From the information I have collected, plasma physics is the way to go if you what to do research on fusion. At the present time, fusion is still in the research phase, and so most, if not all, nuclear engineering programs will focus solely on nuclear fission reactors.
 
  • #5
I'm in a somewhat similar situation as you, except I will be starting my undergraduate education in physics this fall. From the information I have collected, plasma physics is the way to go if you what to do research on fusion. At the present time, fusion is still in the research phase, and so most, if not all, nuclear engineering programs will focus solely on nuclear fission reactors.
Right, and that’s largely the conclusion I’ve come to as well; almost everything I’ve heard has been “as a nuclear engineer you’ll most likely figure out ways to dispose of nuclear waste” etc. For this reason and others, I’ve been more drawn into physics. However, if my coaches of actually getting to work with fusion are on the lower side (would they be?), what would I do with a physics degree?
 

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