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Wisconsin or Michigan for nuclear engineering (fusion) PhD?

  1. Mar 2, 2014 #1
    I'm looking for some input on this. Wisconsin has the better programs for MHD theory, CFD, and my undergrad advisor told me IHO it has the best plasma physics program period. However Michigan offers more options in applied plasmas in areas other than fusion energy. Honestly, I don't know if fusion energy is ever going to be viable so I might choose Michigan because although maybe the program isn't as strong for plasmas, the areas of application would led to a better career. Or it is possible to switch between the two? Or could I later do an ever bigger switch such as plasma -> fission reactor later on for job purposes even if I do a PhD on the plasma side?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2014 #2


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    If you want to work in fission, do your PhD in fission.
    If you want to work in fusion, do you PhD in fusion. (plasma or inertial, you have to chose))
    If you want to work in non-fusion plasma physics, go for a PhD there.
    If you don't care about your future job, then chose the field you prefer.

    see also: https://www.iter.org
  4. Mar 3, 2014 #3


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    I would guess that the basic plasma physics theory is the same, no matter what you do with it. The application of it is what makes the two programs different. However, you shouldn't think that just because you applied it in a certain specific area, you are boxed into that area. By the time you have your PhD, you are expected to not only be an expert in a particular area, but also a general expert in plasma physics, period. And, it is also expected that you know how to learn and how to teach yourself new things if you have to switch fields.

    Someone who has a more in-depth expertise in this field can tell you a lot more. However, I really can't see you doing any wrong with any of these two schools. They are extremely well-known and well-established in those two fields.

    Disclaimer: I graduated from UW-Wisconsin and spent the first year there as a NE freshman before switching to physics.

  5. Mar 3, 2014 #4
    Yeah that seems like what I've heard you've got to be able to transition. What do you think about a more dramatic switch from plasmas to fission reactors? I would only have a MS skill level with fission reactors with a PhD focusing on plasma applications. Would that make me "overqualified" for MS skill level fission jobs?
  6. Mar 3, 2014 #5
    No, just don't report your PhD on your resume. Tell them you have a masters in NE, wont be a lie.
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