ARLINGTON - Growing demand for nuclear engineers has propelled The University of Texas at Arlington College of Engineering to offer a minor in that field for the first time this fall.
The courses initially drew 30 students but have been expanded to accomodate 35 in the inaugural class.
Bill Carroll, dean of the College of Engineering, said demand for the courses is being driven by plans for 24 new nuclear energy plants across the country, six of which are slated for Texas.
"It's imperative that we get people trained in the right fields. This helps toward that goal," Carroll said.
Lynn Peterson, UT Arlington's associate engineering dean, said the fact that the classes filled up quickly speaks to the need for nuclear engineering education.
The courses will be taught by UT Arlington engineering faculty Ratan Kumar and Rasool Kenarangui. Kumar said today's students are quick to understand that a minor in nuclear engineering will position them well in an energy-conscious economy.
"Nuclear Engineering is in a resurgent mode. Students are very interested in taking classes that are practical and add value to their degree," said Kumar, who holds a doctorate in nuclear engineering. He also has worked as a consultant at nuclear power plants in Louisiana and Mississippi.
College of Engineering administrators also intend to develop a graduate-level nuclear engineering certification program, Peterson said.
"That would allow UT Arlington graduates and others to come back and add value to their degrees," she said.
UT Austin and Texas A&M are the only two Texas universities offering majors in nuclear engineering, Carroll said.
UT Austin administrators encouraged UT Arlington to initiate the minor study program, Carroll said. Government and nuclear industry officials also encouraged UT Arlington to forge ahead, he said.
"We have an advisory board that represents that encouragement," Carroll said. The board includes nuclear engineering officials from UT Austin, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Luminant Power, DP Engineering and Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems Inc.
For more information about the program, go to www.uta.edu/engineering/nuclear/ call 817-272-2571.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.