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Working in Nuclear engineering

  1. Aug 1, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I'm completely new to this forum, and i hope to be posting this thread in the right section. If not, my apologies. :)

    What i've been doing so far for me it's kind of "abstract"; I love physics, but i love as well to be able to do something with it, to apply it. I've read a lot about what I could do and there's a field that attracted the me -energies- especially nuclear. The first thing I want to know from you is if this a career with a solid future. I've read a lot on the internet and almost what I read gives very good prospects to Nuclear energy, even with fukushima, etc... there are a lot of countries that plan to start with Nuclear energy, but I think it's always ok to look for one more opinion :)

    Second, if there's someone in the field; I know that, for instance, with petroleum, workers get to travel a lot and that's something that attracts me a lot. Does working in nuclear engineering gives the same opportunities to do so?

    I've searched in this forum and I know that somewhere people have already asked this question but those threads were already a bit out of date. I'm interesting to know if in 3 or 4 years companies will still be recruiting around the world. To leave you a bit of my context, i'm Portuguese but i'm studying in France, very good with Nuclear energy, which could definitely be a plus.

    Sorry for my imperfect English.

    I thank you in advance for the answers

  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 1, 2014 #2


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    There are a lot of opportunities in nuclear engineering, but the industry is not growing in the US, Europe and Japan, although it is growing in India, China and Korea, and some other nations that are planning to develop nuclear energy, e.g., UAE.

    Nuclear engineers who work for utilities do not necessarily travel a lot, although some may go to conferences. If one works for a consulting firm, one may get to travel some to a lot.

    In countries with mature nuclear engineering programs, attention has turned to aging plants that wish to continue operating beyond the initial design lifetimes of 40 years up to 60 years and beyond, so there is a lot of research going on with respect to the effects of long term exposure at temperature for pressure vessel steels, primarily the reactor pressure vessel, also concrete containment materials that surround the reactor pressure vessel.

    There are plans for more advanced reactor systems, the so-called Gen IV reactor concepts, but those are largely conceptual, or 'on the drawing board'.

    There is some research into 'accident tolerant fuel' and more radiation-resistant materials for LWRs and advanced reactors.

    And there are several efforts to develop integrated multi-physics npp/reactor simulation systems.
  4. Aug 2, 2014 #3

    Thank you for your time :)

    Well, among those you've said I thought Europe was still going to advance when it comes to Nuclear. What I've read as well is that some of those countries that will start with Nuclear energy are making contracts with countries that are already developed and have the technology in that field -like france- so does that mean companies will need to send men to those countries?

    In your second part of the post, you talk a lot about research. Here in France there are the Masters "Pro" and Masters "rech" (research). While the first one prepares you to get in the Industry right when you finish it, the second one prepares you for a thesis. Normally, companies look more for people that have a Master Pro, because they're more familiar with how a company environment works, have more applied knowledge, and most of all, they do internships in companies instead of in laboratorys like in Master Rech. Companies might also like people with Master Rech to do the researches required, but I think the demand is much less. With a Master Pro I can't just go make a thesis, to do so I have to go to a whole process, etc, and not always is accepted. Also, researchers are not as well paid as engineers
    So, well, in your opinion do you actually think it's a good investment to go a Master "rech" instead of a "pro"?
  5. Aug 2, 2014 #4


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    I'm not as familiar with the European system(s) as I'd like to be, even though I worked for a company that did roughly one third of business in US, Europe and Japan, and occasionally South America and Africa.

    Countries with mature nuclear programs are certainly interested in exporting their nuclear technology, partly for the foreign trade, and partly because it establishes a dependence on that nation's nuclear program, which can be viewed strategically. Russia has a large backlog, France is certainly interested in opportunities for foreign trade, and China and Korea are looking at exports.

    France is an interesting case because of the big 3: AREVA, CEA and EdF. AREVA is the big supplier of nuclear fuel, nuclear reactors and NPPs. CEA is the national R&D organization, and EdF is the national utility which is predominantly nuclear. GdF Suez is a minor partner in France and Belgium.

    If one want to work at CEA, then perhaps the 'rech' is better, while working for AREVA or EdF a 'pro' would be better, but really one should probably have a minor in the other depending on which one is major.
  6. Aug 2, 2014 #5
    Thanks a lot again for your time Astronuc :)

    Well, very honestly, I would rather work somewhere besides France. I get bored with routines very fast. I like aventures and that was the major reason I went out of Portugal to go study in France. I think that after 5 years here (im going to my 3rd) ill get bored and eager to look for another place. And truly speaking, I would actually be very excited to work in countries in the middle east. In Europe, UK probably :p
    Any good prospects for the "pro" part in 3-4 years for these places ?

    In one hand i feel that it might be a plus to do à " rech" and then a doctorate to find a job, but in the other hand I like much more doing stuff "in loco", in the terrain, "in the field", if I made myself clear. I'm afraid to be "loosing" time if I can just do a Master pro and get a good engineering job. But then again, my fear is the jobs prospects.

  7. Aug 2, 2014 #6


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    AREVA is an international nuclear technology supplier. They evolved from the merger of Framatome and Siemens nuclear business. AREVA absorbed the US commercial nuclear business of B&W (Babock & Wilcox), and they have affiliations in Asia.

    CEA is the government research organization, but they also participate in international programs.

    Even EdF has an international arm with interests in throughout Europe.

    One does not have to stay in France. EdF is one of the bigger international utilities in the EU. For example, EdF Energy operates the Sizewell PWR in the UK. RWE and E.ON (both of German) and Vattenfall (Sweden) also have interests in nuclear plants in other countries.


  8. Aug 2, 2014 #7
    So do you mean that by working in AREVA or EdF i'll have the chance to do something abroad? Or something else?

    As you might see, i'm really concerned with prospects, it's almost about it.

    Another question: there's a Master "Pro" that really interests me, but it has 3 specialities:

    - Scientific and Technologic management of radioactive waste
    - Sanitation dismantling of Nuclear Installations
    - Nuclear Safety

    Which one would be the "best" overall for you? Outlook and dynamics of the job?

    Edit: If by any chance you understand french i can give you the link of it and you can give your opinion :)
  9. Aug 2, 2014 #8


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    Radioactive waste management is critical on the backend of the fuel cycle. There will be plenty of work in that area for many years.

    Sanitation dismantling is what we call 'decommissioning' in the industry. As plants reach there useful lifetime, they will have to be dismantled and the waste sent somewhere. On the other hand, life extension is a big area of research. The current fleet of LWRs was originally designed for 40 years, and now we see 60 years, and possibly 80 years.

    Nuclear safety is an ongoing concern, and there are opportunities in that.

    I work primarily in nuclear fuel and reactor core technology, but also in other areas, such as spent fuel and security. And I have interests in various other technical fields outside of nuclear.
  10. Aug 3, 2014 #9
    I want to go back to where you said:

    Well, so, the "lot of opportunities" exist if I apply to emerging country's energy companies?

    I'll take advantage and ask another question that's always important. What are the salary ranges? For beginner, medium career? Is it true that working in the middle east would be where I would be making more money?

    Thanks in advance ;)
  11. Aug 8, 2014 #10
    Bump :)
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