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School of Engineering

Course XXII -- Nuclear Engineering

Nuclear Engineering majors may choose one of two tracks within the course: Energy and Radiation in Medicine (RMI), as well as simply Energy. Students who graduate from the energy track generally go on to higher levels of education, eventually working in industry or research.

RMI students may also work in research oriented fields such as neuron detection (detection of bombs or oil, for instance) or radiation oncology. The RMI program is commonly used as a premedical track.

Of the department, Loreto P. Ansaldo ’00 said, “If you want something and you have the initiative, you’re more than likely to get it.”

There are many available summer and long-term jobs. Professors often know people working in other labs around the country or world, and can get students summer positions in many geographic locations.

Upon graduation as well there are more positions for nuclear engineers at nuclear power plants than there are nuclear engineers to fill them, said Professor Kenneth R. Czerwynski.

Small department

There are currently 25 undergraduates majoring in nuclear engineering, so class sizes are rarely above 15. Classes are taught by one professor and one TA, and professors are approachable and friendly, Ansaldo said.

There is no explicit tutoring program, but students who need help can easily get tutoring from the class TA or professor, and there are informal evening review sessions.

Curriculum Concerns

A drawback to being a small department is that there are many gaps and overlaps in class curriculum.

“Especially at the very beginning of the major... professors assume we come in with a certain amount of knowledge that we don’t have,” Ansaldo said. Later some topics are repeated in multiple classes: “We’ve had the materials lecture at least 5 times,” she said. “There’s definitely potential to learn...a lot more than we have.”

Students recently presented these facts to the Course XXII faculty, however, and much of the curriculum is being restructured.

One of the unique assets of the nuclear engineering department is the versatility of the field. The course focuses on developing graduates with a variety of different skills applicable to many different fields. For instance the department is actively involved across the entire field of energy production.

For example in the nuclear engineering department, much emphasis is placed on reports and presentations, in addition to problem sets and tests.

Although Course XXII requires many classes in other majors, faculty and students seem to agree that this broadens their perspective and undergraduate experience.

Students may also opt to take Course XXII-A in which 12 thesis units are replaced with an internship.

-- Karen Robinson & Kristen Landino