- Policy Issues
- For the Media
- In the Classroom
- Know Nuclear
Nuclear engineering is an attractive field with opportunity for you, now and in the years ahead.
There is a high demand for graduates of nuclear engineering programs with either B.S. or M.S. degrees. In fact, many industry experts have been concerned about the shortage of graduates and are eagerly working to increase recruitment of students. A study for the American Society of Engineering Education, , found a significant gap between the number of BS/MS trained workers needed by the fission nuclear power industry and those graduated. The study projected that the gap would increase in coming years. That study concerned itself only with the “fission nuclear power industry”; clearly the demand for workers extends to other areas.
Supply and Demand Imbalance
This imbalance may come as a surprise to some. They may think, “No power reactors have been constructed in the United States for over twenty years. So, why is there a growing demand for workers with nuclear degrees?” Sadly, that perspective has contributed to the growing shortage of trained workers. Because no new reactors were being built, college students considering engineering education have assumed that nuclear engineering didn’t offer much of a career opportunity. As a result, fewer students have pursued nuclear engineering education, shrinking the supply of potential workers. But, other factors have also played a role. One is the aging of our nuclear workforce. Many of the people who pioneered development of commercial nuclear power plants have retired. Others are at or near retirement age.
The 104 operating nuclear power plants in America continue to contribute nearly 20 percent of the nation’s electricity. Utilities and generating companies are applying to extend the operating licenses of existing plants. There will clearly be a need for engineers to maintain and operate these plants for the duration of these extended licenses. In those cases where plants are decommissioned rather than operated longer, there will be a need for nuclear engineering graduates to manage the decommissioning process.
Power plants are not the only place where specialists trained in nuclear science find employment. Engineers using nuclear technology skills are needed in industry for applications which include gauging techniques, food irradiation, medical sterilization, and chemical processing, to name a few. The growing utilization of nuclear science and technology in medicine has created a whole range of opportunities. Companies which manufacture diagnostic equipment require people with special knowledge of nuclear science and technology to design, manufacture, and maintain the equipment. Medical technicians and medical specialists need knowledge of nuclear science and technology in order to complete their diagnostic and treatment tasks. Health physicists are needed to assure safety for medical personnel and patients when these technologies are applied. Research in the basic sciences, pharmacology, and many other fields utilizes nuclear technology. Highly skilled workers with knowledge of nuclear science and technology are needed to accomplish that research at universities, national laboratories and private companies.
What You Can Do
Evaluating the career opportunities in nuclear science and technology will be easier for students who have learned some basic information about the field. Students need to know that there are many applications of nuclear science and technology, that nuclear science and technology is environmentally friendly, that this specialty makes a contribution to the health and well-being of people throughout the world, and that there is a future for you in this field. Want to know more about the many applications of nuclear science and technology? Visit the applications sections of this site.
The word “Science” is derivative of the Latin word “Scientia” which means knowledge. Science is probably the most important and helpful subject of study for human race. There have been many famous scientists and discoverers in nuclear history. Here is a brief history of those who have paved the way.Learn More
Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information of the American Nuclear Society
© Copyright 2013