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The Nuclear Engineering Program has a primary mission to provide an outstanding and comprehensive undergraduate and graduate education to tomorrow's leaders in nuclear engineering. The program provides well-educated nuclear engineering professionals and leaders to Missouri and the nation, in the commercial nuclear industry, national laboratories, hospitals, graduate schools, and the nation's defense and federal agencies. The objectives of the Bachelor of Science program are to provide each student with fundamental knowledge of nuclear engineering and related technologies, analytical and problem solving ability, ability for technical communications, professional ethics, leadership and interpersonal skills, capability to conduct research, and the ability to recognize the value of and pursue life-long learning.
Nuclear Engineering is committed to a strong engineering program administered by highly motivated and active nuclear engineering faculty; it is the only B.S. Nuclear Engineering Degree program accredited in the state of Missouri. Nuclear Engineering at Missouri S&T, one of the earliest accredited undergraduate programs in the nation, interacts with professional societies, and the nuclear industry to promote continuing education, research opportunities, and public dissemination of information about issues and advances in the field.
Nuclear engineers develop and promote the utilization of energy released from nuclear fission, fusion, and the decay of radioisotopes. Currently, there are more than 100 nuclear power plants operating in the United States producing about 20 percent of our nation's electricity. These plants use nuclear fission to produce energy and are cooled by ordinary (light) water, hence the name, Light Water Reactors. This technology reduces the emission of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide significantly, thus contributing to a better environment. In addition, nuclear reactors are used for the propulsion of submarines and aircraft carriers.
In fusion power plants, under development, strong magnetic fields contain a plasma fuel of hydrogen isotopes, such as deuterium, at temperatures hotter than the sun. The deuterium extracted from one gallon of water could produce as much energy as burning several hundred gallons of gasoline.
Radioisotopes are used in industry and research, and in medicine for diagnostic and therapeutic purposes. The medical use of radioisotopes and X-rays saves hundreds of thousands of lives every year throughout the world. Radioisotopes are also used in small power generators for space flights.
If you choose nuclear engineering, you could work in the areas of nuclear reactor design, plant licensing, plant operation, fuel management and development, radioactive waste disposal, health physics, instrumentation and control, fusion research, space nuclear power, and applications of radioisotopes in industry, medicine, and research. As a nuclear engineer, you might be employed by utilities, reactor vendors, architect-engineering firms, consulting firms, industrial research centers, national laboratories, government agencies or universities.
The nuclear engineering curriculum consists of three components: general education, mathematics and basic sciences, and engineering topics. The students apply the principles of physics, chemistry and mathematics to the study of engineering topics which include statics, mechanics of materials, electronic circuits and machines, thermodynamics, and metallurgy. The knowledge gained in these areas is applied to the understanding of nuclear engineering topics including reactor fluid mechanics and heat transfer, reactor physics, nuclear radiation measurements, radioactive waste management, reactor laboratory and operation, nuclear materials, and nuclear systems design (a capstone design course).
Engineering design is an integral part of a significant number of required courses in the nuclear engineering program. Design topics include but are not limited to reactor cooling systems, radiation protection, structural components, waste disposal and transportation systems, nuclear reactor cores and the design of experiments for radiation detection and measurement. While obtaining experience in these areas the students are prepared for designing a complete nuclear system such as a nuclear plant for electric power generation, space propulsion and communication, desalination, district heating or radioisotope production for industrial, medical or research applications.
In the senior Nuclear Systems Design course (Nu Eng 323), students work in small groups of two or three on different components of a system. They interact and exchange ideas with the nuclear engineering faculty and other groups on a weekly basis both collectively and individually in the form of reports and oral presentations. In this course, all of the knowledge acquired by the students including that in the humanities and social sciences, is brought to bear on the selection of the final design. In addition to the technical considerations, the issues addressed include economics, safety, reliability, aesthetics, ethics, and social impact. At the end of the semester the students write a comprehensive and cohesive final report for their final design and make an oral presentation of their work.
Laboratory facilities available to nuclear engineering students include a radiation measurements laboratory, a 200 kW swimming pool-type nuclear reactor, a materials analysis laboratory, and a computer learning center. The students have access to state-of-the-art computing facilities including personal computers, workstations, mainframes, and super computers. The program offices and laboratories are primarily housed in Fulton Hall. The nuclear reactor is housed in its own building.