What is Nuclear Engineering?
Written By: Brianna Schulstad
Nuclear engineering refers to the practice of extracting the energy released from nuclear reactions. While a small field, nuclear engineering has surprising applications such as in food production, medical equipment, and submarine systems!
Degree Path for Nuclear Engineering
Nuclear engineering is an unusual undergraduate degree. Many universities, even the best engineering schools, have yet to implement this degree program for their undergraduates. Regardless, the best undergraduate degrees in nuclear engineering are the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, North Carolina State University, Texas A&M, and the University of California Berkeley.
The more common route is for students to major in a related field in their undergraduate degree. Students can major in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and chemical engineering. Since these degrees are very similar to nuclear engineering, many are able to enter the workforce after they receive their bachelors; the majority of nuclear engineers take this route. But, a small number of prospective nuclear engineers decide to get their masters or PhD in nuclear engineering to have a more specialized focus.
Job Opportunities for Nuclear Engineers
Research and Teaching: If you hold a master's degree or higher, you could be eligible to become a professor and perform academic research within the field of nuclear science.
Simulations and Modeling: Nuclear reactors must be tested extraneously before being built. Reactors are tested through life-like simulations that are required to be made, run, and analyzed by nuclear engineers.
Medical devices: Medical technologies, such as PET and MRI scans, are utilizing nuclear technologies. Nuclear engineers must design, test, and regulate this machinery.
Radiation Detection: Creating safety measures and measuring danger in nuclear settings.
Skills Achieved Through a Degree in Nuclear Engineering
Communication skills: While this degree you need to communicate complicated processes to people that do not have the same background. Nuclear systems are a huge team effort, so you must communicate effectively and precisely.
Attention to detail: Nuclear engineering is a dangerous field that requires precision and attention to detail. Mistakes and errors can have serious consequences.
Logic and Reasoning: Not only do nuclear engineers have to think outside the box, they have to anticipate problems before they even happen.
Nuclear engineering is a small but emerging field. With the current emphasis on green energy, nuclear energy is a viable option to combat our climate crisis. With that projection, nuclear engineering job growth and pay is expected to grow in the near future.