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Jobs in nuclear engineering

Jobs in nuclear engineering

Jobs in nuclear engineering

Hi everybody,

I'm new here in this forum and also freshly gratuated as an electrical engineer. I found a job 6 month ago in a nuclear company as a design engineer.
this function interest me more and more...
however I wonder which function could I take 5 years later (still design engineer or moove to another function such as safety engineer, project management, purchaser, ... ?).

I want you (senior engineers or whatever) to give me your own feed back or advice.

thanks you a lot for your contribution.

RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

The sky is the limit, man.  You can do whatever you really want to, if you have the brains and the interpersonal relationship senses.

RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

thanks qmax !

can you tell me about you ? how you started and your function now ?
and what can you advice to me ?


RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

Well, 32 years later I'm back doing what I began doing (maintenance and construction and startup control) but I'm now doing it at 4x the rate - so I hope I've learned something in the meantime.   

Frankly, don't worry about it.  What you will likely be doing 30 years from now hasn't been invented yet.    For example, PC's weren't invented when I began, so you can't compare today's spreadsheets and planning software to what you'll be doing then.    

RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

Thanks a lot racookpe !
u are right about the 30 years from now and things that hasn't been invented yet :)
I didn't thought (before you mentionned it) that an engineer could do the same job 30 years later. I'm sure you have learned a lot in the meantime !! it's obvious !
we are now speaking about the 3rd generation of reactors, so I wonder whether I should work in a project concerning this new reactors or is it better to learn first on the 2nd generation and then moove to the 3rd  ?
I don't have the impression that the nuclear technology changes so fast as informatics....

thanks for your answers

RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

In general, one needs to determine if one would follow the technical track,the  management track, or the  drop-out track. If you have retained an interest in the technical end, then follow that track wherever it may lead. I am sure it will get more interesting as time rolls by.

For nuclear in general, there seems to be a a lot of opportunities in many countries, but an interesting  shift is occuring the US. First, the EIA estimate of natural gas prices is that for the next 20 yrs the cost of nat gas will remain at $5/MMBTU in the US ( due to low cost shale frac'cing), so that will likely put  the silver spike in the heart of the US nuclear renaissance for the next 20 yrs. In parallel with that , there is an expectation that the chinese version of the AP1000 ( called cap 1400) will undercut the pricing for most other competing reactor technologies .

But there remains a need to replace retiring workers, a need to address reactor waste and military needs, including an understanding of what is happening in other countries that  continue to build and operate new reactors.  

RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

Hey everyone,
If I am not a safety eng, how could I get a practise as a nuclear safety eng.?
From where should I start?
Thank in advance :)

RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

Nuclear safety engineer - as far as plant maintenance, plant construction, OSHA and job site safety assurance goes - is little different than conventional large construction work or coal/GT maintenance and repair.  RadCon jobsite work is specialized, but that's "only" a part of the overall nuclear safety work.  

My own masters degree (QA and reliability/statistical analysis) is not essential but good to have for the nuclear analysis and plant design part itself, but I'd be wrong to tell you it is the only thing needed, nor is it the most important thing needed as a prereq.  Nuke safety crosses so many fields - to make sure nothing gets through the cracks - that your knowledge is almost any field (even software design or heat transfer or metallurgical analysis or mechanical parts design) is a requirement for somebody at some point in time.   

Don't ignore the government either: Commercial (US) nuclear plants are under the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (our own vpl can probably give you more direct references) but the Navy's nuclear plants are controlled/licensed under the Navy's Nuclear Reactor Office. (NRRO, used to be Rickover's domain).  Both are hiring.  Both have extensive (over a year-long) training programs over what they want you to know.   


RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

Thanks for the kind plug racookpe1978; however, I'm not really sure that NRC is truly currently hiring -- there are all these headlines about the Federal government needing to be trimmed by 10%.  Anyone, of course, who is interested in a federal job needs to go to USA Jobs or you can visit the NRC home page -- which will direct you to USA Jobs.  

As a general remark, posude and others should be aware that most NRC jobs require extensive oral and written communication skills as well as technical ability.  Inability to use proper grammar will count against you (if you are hired) in future performance appraisals.   

Patricia Lougheed


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RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

Welcome to the industry gatevalve1982!

I also work for a nuclear engineering company as a design engineer.  I have done design engineering for the last 12 years and I love it.

One thing I have noticied for our new hires, since we are an engineering contracting company, is that it takes longer for them to get real plant experience since we work out of an office and don't always spend time at a site.  I am lucky in that I spent my first decade as a design engineer at a plant, so I got the opportunity to get involved in almost everything. If you are the kind of person who likes to get in the field and learn, then I would encourage you to find if an opportunity exists for a staff aug or long term deployment position at a plant.  The more you get out there and see actual plant modifications being installed, the better you will be at your job.  Then you will also get an opportunity to see all the other types of jobs there are at a plant (systems/programs/reactor engineering, operations, maintenance, rad protection, QA/QC, NDE, etc..).  The plants have a lot of engineers that support day to day operation of the plant, and that can be a lot of fun, if you are willing to work nights and weekends, and donate your entire life during a refueling outage.

The existing fleet of plants will be around for quite some time, so you can have a long and full career just on these.  They may be older designs, but it provides a lot of opportunity for design changes due to the need for upgrades to equipment.  Most of the original fleet has been or will be relicensed, so they will be around for a while.  As an electrical engineer, one thing that you might find interesting is that some plants are starting to replace old analog instruments with digital equipment, which is a really new thing for our industry.

The new plants are also an exciting opportunity, especially when they actually start building them.  The flood gates haven't opened yet on this.  The AP1000 being built at Vogtle (in Georgia) is the only one right now that is proceeding full steam ahead.  There are several others that are in the works, like the one that my company will build, but the recession has slowed things up a bit.

So my advice is to get to a site, talk to people, spend time in the plant, suit up in scrubs and PCs, get some zoomies, and learn as much as you can.

RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

I second rcchap, really good advice there (who knows I might have owner's accepted your work).  From your description gatevalve your working for a contractor or one of the big three.  I'm a C/S design engineer at a plant (2 years). You get involved in everything.  One day I'll be working heavy load lifts the next day pip stress analysis.  It is really a jack of all trades type job.  You learn very quickly and there are a lot of opening starting to come about because the plants haven't hired anyone in 30 years. Our office demographic is 55+ and 28 and under.  You will have to work unexpected plant shutdowns, long grueling refueling outages every 2 years, night shifts, and the embarrassment of wearing a pager.  Get some experience in design and see what else you like.  Some people stay there forever.  Try anything and everything.  The plants have a lot of 70's vintage technology for the EE's enjoy that.  The new reactors should be pretty interesting but there is a lot of work available and opportunities at the old plants.  My advice is not to limit yourself and try to learn as much as you can from the guys who are still around.  Design will give you a good base for anyplace else you want to go. Welcome to Nuclear, there is nothing else like it.

RE: Jobs in nuclear engineering

I also second rcchap... I got my start in a systems engineering group at a two-unit 70s vintage nuclear site and the experience gained was invaluable.  After a few years I joined a large engineering/construction company to get involved more with the design side of the industry.  Having spent a few years in a plant doing walkdowns, inspecting equipment inside and out, troubleshooting failures, working refueling outages, etc gave me a real leg up on the guys who started doing design work right out of college.

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