Studies & Degrees in Nuclear Engineering
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Nuclear Engineering is an undergraduate course that is offered in a handful of countries only, those that have nuclear facilities in the aim of improving the use of nuclear energy through the improvements of nuclear reactors and other applications where nuclear technology could benefit the human race. Because of the social responsibility that comes along with the knowledge to be learned, a strict ethical code will be expected to be adhered to from graduates of this course taking into account always all economic, social and environmental consequences that may arise from their work.
Nuclear Engineering is not for everybody as this would deal primarily with advanced mathematics, engineering concepts, atomic/nuclear physics and transport and interaction of radioactive materials with matter, meaning to be admitted to this course one has to possess above average cognitive skills.
On the whole, the students would be taught the concepts behind the technology that’s making nuclear reactors possible like nuclear fission, nuclear fusion and plasma physics. Nuclear engineering has also been the proponents of nuclear medicine. Another area of research looked upon by nuclear engineering professionals is researching on nuclear materials and nuclear fuels. There is also a branch of nuclear engineering that focuses on radiation measurements and dosimetry.
Nuclear fission technology is where an atom’s nucleus is disintegrated into two smaller particles particularly the neutrons which release massive amounts of energies. This process is either achieved through what they call thermal fission or fast fission. Thermal fission is the process commonly employed by commercial nuclear power plants. In the United States, thermal fission has been responsible for generating 20% of the overall electricity consumption. Those engaging in this field would be busy designing nuclear reactors that could generate more electricity in a more economical level. Nuclear fusion technology, on the other hand, is the one that allows two, or could be more, atoms to fuse together forming a single and much denser nucleus which results in the emission or absorption of energies in large amounts. An example of an application of this is the formation of deuterium where two hydrogen protons form together into a single neutron. Nuclear fusion is perhaps the process that is responsible for the creation of nuclear weapons.
With the aim of applying nuclear engineering to the advancement of human societies, there had also been breakthroughs in the field of medicine like the X-ray machines and PET (positron emission tomography). These machines have been instrumental in diagnostic imaging and have tremendously helped doctors treat diseases more accurately.
In the area of nuclear materials research, nuclear engineers would be on the hunt for new materials that could be used as nuclear fuels. Right now, uranium ore are the primary raw materials. This area of nuclear engineering will also be the one looking for containment and development of other materials that will withstand the bombardment of radioactive materials once the neutrons and electrons start moving for whatever purposes.
Another thing that nuclear engineers are busy spending lots of time of is coming up with equipments and paraphernalia that could detect and measure radiation levels like the Geiger counter.
Nuclear engineers are one of the highest paid professionals out there today. The usual pay scale of Nuclear Engineering graduates hovers in the $60,000/month level minimum up to $120,000/month.