This field of engineering includes the design, analysis, development, testing, operation and maintenance of nuclear fission systems and components, specifically, nuclear reactors, nuclear power plants and/or nuclear weapons. The field can also include the study of nuclear fusion, medical applications of radiation, nuclear safety, heat transport, nuclear fuels technology, nuclear proliferation, and the effect of radioactive waste or radioactivity in the environment.
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Undergraduate coursework should begin with a foundation in mechanics and dynamics of particle motion, thermodynamics, introductory computer programming, college level physics and chemistry, and a rigorous training in mathematics through differential equations.
Midway through undergraduate training a nuclear engineer must choose a specialization within their field that they will further study. Further coursework in a nuclear engineering program includes but is not limited to fluid mechanics, reactor physics, quantum mechanics, thermal hydraulics, linear circuits, radiation effects, and neutron transport.
Specialization in fission, includes the study of nuclear reactors, fission systems, and nuclear power plants, the primary teachings deal with neutronics and thermal-hydraulics for nuclear generated electricity. A firm foundation in thermodynamics and fluid mechanics in addition to hydrodynamics is a must.
Specialization in nuclear fusion includes electrodynamics and plasmas. This area is very much research oriented and training often terminates with a graduate level degree.
Specialization in nuclear medicine, includes courses dealing with doses and absorption of radiation in bodily tissues. Those who get competency in this area usually move into the medical field. Many nuclear engineers in this specialization go on to become board licensed medical physicists or go to medical school and become a radiation oncologist. Research is also a common choice for graduates.
- J.A. Lake. "The Renaissance of Nuclear Energy" (website)
- C. Schmidt. "The next generation of nuclear power?" (website)
- Making the World Safe for Nuclear Energy
- Generation IV Nuclear Energy Systems
- Pebble Bed Modular Reactor
- Onkalo Waste Management Project (Posiva)
- W. Hannum, G.E. Marsh, G.S. Stanford, Argonne Nat'l Lab, "Advanced Liquid Metal Reactors." 1983-2003. (Fast Neutron Reactors and pyro-metallurgical processing) (SciAm article)
- March 2008 MIT tests unique approach to fusion power
- April 2007 New advances in fusion research potentially made...
- March 2007 - Company supposedly discovers method to safely dispose of nuclear waste.
- March 2007 - Interesting article on table top fusion. Did you know that through nuclear fusion, one could extract 200 gallons of gasoline worth of energy from 1 bucket of sea water? (noted in article)
- March 2007 - Chinese create next generation experimental fusion tokamak reactor.