nuclear engineer

What does a Nuclear Engineer do?

A nuclear engineer designs, maintains, and operates nuclear power plants. They are involved in the research and development of the instruments, processes, and systems use in order to gain the benefits of radiation and nuclear energy. Due to the variety of settings nuclear engineers can work in schedules that may look different pending on what specialty employed with. Most nuclear engineers work in electric power generation, transmission and distribution facilities, and the federal government.

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How to Become a Nuclear Engineer

nuclear engineer

A nuclear engineer must have a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering to secure an entry-level job in the private industry. In some cases a master’s degree or Ph.D. is wanted by the employer. It would be advantageous for a high school student that is considering this career field to begin taking classes in science and math as early as possible. Programs for a bachelor’s degree include laboratory, classroom, and field studies. Many colleges and universities have cooperative-education programs that would help pupils get experience while finishing their education. A 5-year program that achieves a bachelor’s and master’s degree can be found in some universities.

A graduate degree provides the opportunity for an engineer to gain experience working as an instructor at a university or be involved in development and research. There are 5-6 year cooperative education programs for one to consider that provides a combination of work and classroom study which may help with the cost of their education. A master’s and Ph.D. program are made up of laboratory, classroom, and research efforts in engineering principles and advanced mathematics. Completion of a research study is required by working on a private or government research grant in conjunction with a professor.

Job Description of a Nuclear Engineer

A nuclear engineer has direct maintenance or operating activities of nuclear power plants and is responsible for making sure all safety standards are met. They develop nuclear equipment, as well as design equipment that would be used with radiation shielding or reactor cores plus associated instrumentation. He or she develops instructional manuals that are used in disposing of waste or in nuclear plant operations. A nuclear engineer would oversee facility operations to safeguard the facility against any potential law and safety hazards or regulations and other areas of violation in their operational practices. They ensure this safety by conducting tests on the facilities methods of waste disposal and their handling of reclaimed nuclear fuel.

They also make the decision to shut down a nuclear facility in the event of an emergency. Nuclear engineers are involved in any corrective action necessary to be sure the plant continues to operate correctly by gathering information and data from any accidents that have occurred. In addition they put new designs in place for future preventative problems. A nuclear engineer works alongside electrical engineers and mechanical engineers and incorporate their designs into his or her own design. They must have analytical, math, problem-solving, and communication skills. They also need to be logical thinkers and be detail-oriented.

Nuclear Engineer Career Video Transcript

Tremendous energy is trapped in the nucleus of a tiny atom. Harnessing that energy is the work of nuclear engineers. They search for efficient ways to capture the energy from disintegrating atoms, or from the fusion of atoms, and put it to use. Nuclear engineers develop a variety of applications for nuclear energy, including diagnosing and treating illnesses and in systems to power ships and spacecraft. Many of these engineers work with nuclear reactors, the source of energy for power plants to provide heat and electricity to many homes and businesses.

The resources used in nuclear power generate potentially dangerous radioactivity. So nuclear engineers in power plants develop safety practices and ensure that nuclear waste is disposed of with care. Their job doesn’t stop after designing cutting-edge new technology, they oversee operations and maintenance, and issue immediate emergency shutdowns if there are malfunctions. The majority of nuclear engineers work full-time for public utilities or engineering consulting firms. They sometimes collaborate with other kinds of engineers to improve each other’s system designs.

A bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering is the typical entry-level requirement for this field some positions require a master’s degree or Ph.D. Nuclear engineers carry a large responsibility to safely manage a resource many people have come to depend on.

Article Citations

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Nuclear Engineer.

National Center for O*NET Development. 17-2161.00. O*NET OnLine.

The career video is in the public domain from the U. S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration.