Nuclear Engineering Minor
Nuclear engineering is the field of engineering that deals with the control and use of energy and radiation released from nuclear reactions. It encompasses the development, design, and construction of power reactors, naval-propulsion reactors, nuclear fuel-cycle facilities, and radioactive-waste disposal facilities; the development and production of nuclear weapons; and the production and application of radioisotopes. The field may also include the study of nuclear fusion, medical and other applications of (generally ionizing) radiation, nuclear safety, heat/thermodynamics transport, nuclear fuel and/or other related (e.g., waste disposal) technology, nuclear proliferation, and the effect of radioactive waste or radioactivity in the environment.
Why Minor in Nuclear Engineering?
The nuclear energy industry is rapidly growing and there will soon be a shortage of nuclear engineers who are able to fill available positions. Minoring in nuclear engineering will make your engineering degree much more valuable and give you an edge in acquiring a great job when you graduate. Students planning to seek an advanced degree in engineering can also benefit from a minor in nuclear engineering.
What Do Nuclear Engineers Do?
Nuclear and radiological engineers research and develop the processes, instruments, and systems for national laboratories, private industry, and universities that derive benefits from nuclear energy and radiation for society. They devise how to use radioactive materials in manufacturing, agriculture, medicine, power generation, and many other ways. Many nuclear engineers design, develop, monitor, and operate nuclear plants used to generate power. They may work on the nuclear fuel cycle -- the production, handling, and use of nuclear fuel and the safe disposal of waste produced by the generation of nuclear energy. Others research the production of fusion energy. Some specialize in the development of nuclear power sources for spacecraft; others find industrial and medical uses for radioactive materials, as in equipment used to diagnose and treat medical problems.
Who Employs Nuclear Engineers?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nuclear engineers hold about 17,000 jobs in the United States. This represents 1% of the 1.5 million jobs held by engineers. Almost half were employed in utilities, one-quarter in professional, scientific, and technical services firms, and 14 percent in the Federal Government. Many federally employed nuclear engineers were civilian employees of the U.S. Navy, and others worked for the U.S. Department of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In addition to the nuclear power industry, nuclear engineers also find employment in other sectors, such as in medical equipment manufacturing, engineering and construction firms, national laboratories, research facilities, and consulting firms. Nuclear engineers may work in medical applications, focus on fission or fusion energy, and may be involved in radioactive waste management.
- Nuclear Regulatory Commission
- General Career Information
- American Nuclear Society
- Nuclear Energy Institute