What is Nuclear Engineering?
What is Nuclear Engineering?
Nuclear engineering is one of the broadest engineering professions, integrating facets of many of the other engineering disciplines with its own in order to harness the power and diversity of radiation processes. Nuclear engineers are essential to the design and operation of advanced power sources based on nuclear fission, such as nuclear power plants, ocean vessels or even spacecraft.
Eventually, nuclear engineers will be essential in harnessing fusion based power sources for similar purposes. Nuclear engineers, however, are not limited only to the production of fission based power, but are also key to developing numerous advances in nuclear medicine, safe and productive food supplies, radioisotope power sources, and a plethora of industrial applications in modern commerce.
Currently, there are more than 100 nuclear power plants operating in the United States, producing roughly 22% of our nation's electricity. These plants, and the technology they are built upon, are paramount in meeting new environmental standards and reducing the emission of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas.
Worldwide, nuclear energy is one of the fastest growing energy options. Nuclear power plants produce 17% of all electricity in the world -- more than all of the electricity produced from all sources in 1960!
Nuclear reactors are also used for the propulsion of submarines and aircraft carriers. Reactors or isotopes generated by reactors have powered all deep space missions. An active area of research here at A&M is in the design of advanced nuclear power systems, especially for space power and propulsion.
Radioisotopes are produced in fission reactors and are widely used in industry and research. Many radioisotopes are used in medicine for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. The medical use of radioisotopes and X-rays saves hundreds of thousands of lives throughout the world every year.
- What is Radiological Health Engineering?
What is Radiological Health Engineering?
This specialization within nuclear engineering emphasizes the fundamentals of biology, chemistry, mathematics, physical science and engineering, providing a well-rounded education in all aspects of engineering for radiation safety.
Because radiological health engineers protect people and the environment from the hazards of excess ionizing radiation, this profession can be one of the most rewarding fields in science and engineering. Ionizing radiation can greatly benefit humanity as a means of producing energy or killing cancer cells, but it can also damage other living organisms. Therefore, radiation must be handled responsibly.
Nuclear power plants, medical centers, and research laboratories demand professionals who understand and know how to prevent the hazards of radiation. The use of radiation to treat human illnesses has entered a new renaissance with exciting new advances almost daily.
With expanding nuclear energy research and waste management and the increasing use of ionizing radiation in our industries, medicine, and even in our homes, the demand for radiological health engineers will continue to grow.
- What does a Nuclear Engineer or a Health Physicist do?
What does a Nuclear Engineer or a Health Physicist do?
Here is but a partial list of the jobs in high demand for nuclear engineers and health physicists:
- Constructing and operating nuclear power plants
- Designing, constructing, and operating advanced nuclear power plants
- Investigating and optimizing advanced nuclear fuel cycles
- Designing, constructing, and operating fusion reactors
- Analyzing and preparing for long-term energy security for this country and the world
- Designing, constructing, and operating advanced power systems for the US naval fleet
- Designing and constructing power systems for space exploration and propulsion
- Designing methods for securing, verifying, and productivity utilizing excess nuclear weapons material
- Developing arms control and nonproliferation technologies
- Expanding and improving the use of radionuclides in medicine
- Advancing medical imaging
- Providing new radiotherapy technologies
- Improving food safety using radiation pasteurization
- Remediating nuclear waste generated during the cold war
- Designing and constructing nuclear waste storage strategies and facilities
- Monitoring and remediating environmental exposures to radiation
- Helping to quantify risk from radiation exposure including nonionizing radiation
- Controling and monitoring the use of radioisotopes in industrial and medical facilities
- Regulating and auditing the use of radionuclides in industry, medicine, and research
- Designing improved transport methods for moving nuclear waste and useful isotopes
- Extending the operating life of present nuclear power plants
- Managing the use of radionuclides and nuclear fuel
- Providing technical expertise for use of radionuclides and nuclear fuel
- and many, many others
- Who employs Nuclear Engineers?
Who employs Nuclear Engineers?
- Electrical power companies
(TXU, Entergy, the Southern Company, STP...)
- Reactor manufacturers
(General Electric, Westinghouse, Combustion Engineering...)
- Architect-engineering firms
(Bechtel, British Nuclear Fuels...)
- Consulting firms
(EXCEL Services Corp., Stone and Webster...)
- National laboratories
(Battelle, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, Argonne,...)
- Federal government
(NRC, CIA, DOD, DOE, EPA, FBI,...)
- Hospital and medical research centers
(MD Anderson, Methodist Teaching Hospital,...)
(Schlumberger, Armstrong, Exxon, Southwest Technologies,...)
- Other government agencies
(NASA, state licensing agencies, DOT,...)
- Electrical power companies
- Why study Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M?
Why study Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M?
Texas A&M University's undergraduate program in nuclear engineering enjoys a solid reputation as one of the oldest, largest, and best equipped in the United States. In the Department of Nuclear Engineering, undergraduates use the laboratories and facilities other programs reserve for graduate students.
Our fully ABET accredited degree program in Nuclear Engineering stresses broad fundamental education in mathematics, science and engineering. Mechanics, thermodynamics and fluid mechanics are also part of the nuclear engineering curriculum.
The curriculum provides a balanced education in virtually all aspects of nuclear engineering principles and practice, from atomic and nuclear theory to reactor design.
Many of the students who complete undergraduate degrees in nuclear engineering go on to pursue advanced degrees in the department's graduate programs, including specialties in health physics and nuclear engineering.
- Why study Radiological Health Engineering at Texas A&M?
Why study Radiological Health Engineering at Texas A&M?
Texas A&Ms radiological health engineering (RHEN) is the only ABET accredited program of its kind in the United States. Students that complete a Bachelor of Science degree within our program are eligible for licensure as professional engineers (PE) after meeting their state's Engineer-in-Training requirements.
Our undergraduate program features a broad range of health physics topics, which include:
- dosimetry and dose assessment
- fundamental and applied radiation detection
- radiation health, risk and regulation
- environmental fate and transport
- engineering design and modeling of shields, ventilation and interlocks/access controls
- Other Reasons to choose Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M!
Other Reasons to Choose Nuclear Engineering at Texas A&M!
The students here are the best in the world! The students at A&M are magic: you will be amazed how friendly people are and how many friends you'll make in the first week. It's the biggest "small" campus in the world.
- Essentially all of our graduates receive job offers. The average starting salary for B. S. graduates is $60,000 (plus signing bonuses in many cases)
- Scholarships up to $10,000 are awarded to top students ($2,500/year for 4 years).
- The faculty to student ratio is about 1:10, thus allowing smaller classes and providing more personal interaction between the professors and students.
- Texas A&M is the only school in Texas offering an undergraduate degree in nuclear engineering.
- The department assists students in finding summer employment related to nuclear engineering or health physics. In fact, we have assurance from some employers that all freshmen in good standing are guaranteed summer jobs
- Texas A&M has an active Cooperative Training program. Qualified students have alternate periods in school and work in the nuclear industry, leading to a degree in about 5 years. The students' salaries help pay school expenses and a majority of these companies offer jobs to co-op students upon graduation.
- Many of our B. S. students elect to continue their studies here to receive a M.S. or Ph.D. degree. Financial support is provided for almost all graduate students.
- FAQ for Newly Admitted Students
I want to:
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Apply for Admission to Texas A&M University
Links for Applying:
- find financial aid and scholarship information
- find more information for prospective Undergraduate Students
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Campus Visits for Prospective Students
Thinking about studying nuclear engineering at Texas A&M? Then visit us! Whether you want to tour our facilities, meet our faculty and staff, or talk with current students about our department, let us help you plan your visit. We cant wait to meet you!
Please contact Marna Billiter, 979/845-0607 or email@example.com.
To arrange a visit, please contact the graduate advisor.