Skip Navigation
search: People Opens New Window | Departments Opens New Window | Penn State Opens New Window | Web Opens New Window
Penn State mark
Penn State mark
University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs


Nuclear Engineering (NUC E) - ARCHIVE

Begin Date: Summer Session 2006
End Date: Spring Semester 2007 -UCA

Nuclear Engineering - ARCHIVE

University Park, College of Engineering (NUC E)

PROFESSOR KAREN A. THOLE, Head, Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering
PROFESSOR JACK S. BRENIZER, JR., Program Chair, Nuclear Engineering Program

Nuclear engineering is the practical application of nuclear science for the benefit of humankind. In this context, graduates of nuclear-engineering programs are generally qualified to obtain positions primarily in the nuclear-power industry, in civilian and military branches of the government, in the applications of radiation, radioactivity, and nuclear science to other branches of engineering and to enter graduate and professional degree programs in these areas.

The undergraduate nuclear-engineering major represents the first comprehensive component of professional education and development for the students who participate in and complete this baccalaureate-degree program. The overall educational objective of the engineering component of our program is to prepare the students so that following graduation they will function effectively in the marketplace. The first two years of the program stress fundamentals in mathematics, chemistry, physics, computer programming, and engineering sciences such as mechanics, materials, and thermodynamics. The last two years provide the breadth and depth in nuclear science, behavior of heat and fluids, reactor theory and engineering, and radiation measurement. The laboratory work includes experiments using the University's 1,000-kilowatt research reactor. Engineering design is incorporated in many courses from the freshman year to the senior year, but is particularly emphasized in the senior capstone design course, which integrates the critical elements of reactor theory, reactor engineering, safety considerations and economic optimization into a reactor design. In addition to this core technical curriculum we emphasize the broad liberal education the university graduates need, the need for life-long learning, the impact of engineering on society, and the need to communicate technical information to an international and multicultural audience.

In the technical part of the curriculum, we emphasize power engineering, which refers to complex systems used to generate electricity. Because our emphasis in power engineering is strong and because a shortage for expertise in power engineering exists in the industry, generally the industry values our graduates highly. Many graduates are employed by electric power companies that use nuclear power plants, or by companies that help service and maintain those plants. They use their knowledge of engineering principles, radioactive decay, interactions of radiation with matter, and nuclear reactor behavior to help assure that the power plants meet the demand for reliable, economic electricity while ensuring a safe environment. To do this, graduates must be problem solvers who can develop and use complex computer models and sophisticated monitoring systems, design systems to handle radioactive waste, determine if the materials in the plant are becoming brittle or corroded, or manage the fuel in the reactor to get the maximum energy from it.

Other graduates work in industries that use radioactivity or radiation to detect problems or monitor processes. Jobs are also found in branches of the government as designers of the next generation of reactors for submarines, aircraft carriers, or space probes, or to manage and clean up contaminated wastes. They could also be involved with regulation of nuclear power or radiation uses, or in research to develop advanced technologies that will be used in next-generation power plants. Graduates who want to further their education in the fields of health physics, radiation biology, or nuclear medical applications find this degree to be a useful preparation.

Within two to three years of graduation, the majority of our B.S. graduates are expected to be working in the power engineering area or pursuing advanced degrees. Some graduates will be working in nuclear science and other branches of nuclear engineering. Graduates of this program have established strong records of achievement at all technical and managerial levels in industry and government. We expect that other areas besides power engineering may grow in importance, and that, in general, the needs of our constituents may change. Because of this, we constantly assess and review the needs of our undergraduate students and their most frequent employers and use this feedback to consider revisions to our curriculum so that it is responsive to the needs of our constituents.

For the B.S. degree in Nuclear Engineering, a minimum of 129 credits is required. This baccalaureate program in Nuclear Engineering is accredited by the Engineering Accreditation Commission of ABET, Inc., 111 Market Place, Suite 1050, Baltimore, MD 21202-4012; telephone 410-347-7700; or

Scheduling Recommendation by Semester Standing given like (Sem:1-2)

(27 of these 45 credits are included in the REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MAJOR)
(See description of General Education in front of Bulletin.)


(Included in GENERAL EDUCATION course selection)


(This includes 27 credits of General Education courses: 9 credits of GN courses; 6 credits of GQ courses; 3 credits of GS courses; 9 credits of GWS courses.)

CHEM 012 GN(3), CHEM 014 GN(1), ED&G 100(3), MATH 140 GQ(4), MATH 141 GQ(4), PHYS 211 GN(4), PHYS 212 GN(4) (Sem: 1-2)
E MCH 011(3), E MCH 012(3), E MCH 013(3), M E 030(3), MATH 230(4), MATH 251(4)[1], PHYS 214 GN(2) (Sem: 3-4)
E E 305(3), E MCH 215(2), E MCH 216(1), ENGL 202C GWS(3), M E 033(3), M E 412(3), NUC E 301(4)[1], NUC E 302(4)[1], NUC E 309(3)[1], NUC E 310W(2), NUC E 450(3)[1] (Sem: 5-6)
NUC E 403(3), NUC E 430(3)[1], NUC E 431W(4), NUC E 451(3) (Sem: 7-8)

Select 1 credit of First-Year Seminar (Sem: 1-2)
ECON 002 GS(3), ECON 004 GS(3), ECON 014 GS(3) or ENNEC 100 GS(3) (Sem: 1-2)
ENGL 015 GWS(3) or ENGL 030 GWS(3) (Sem: 1-2)
CAS 100A GWS(3) or CAS 100B GWS(3) (Sem: 3-4)
CMPSC 201C GQ(3) or CMPSC 201F GQ(3) (Sem: 3-4)
Select 6 credits in nuclear engineering courses from NUC E 405, NUC E 408, NUC E 409, NUC E 420, NUC E 428, NUC E 444, NUC E 445, NUC E 460, NUC E 470, NUC E 490, or 500-level NUC E courses with approval of adviser (Students may apply 3 credits of ROTC.) (Sem: 7-8)

Select 3 credits in technical courses from program list of supporting courses and related areas (Students may apply 3 credits of ROTC.) (Sem: 7-8)

[1] A student enrolled in this major must receive a grade of C or better, as specified in Senate Policy 82-44.

Last Revised by the Department: Summer Session 2006

Blue Sheet Item #: 34-03-018

Review Date: 11/22/05

Dept head update by Publications: 8/1/06



Look up course abbreviations

Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

Skip Popular Searches
  1. Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements
  2. General Education: United States Cultures and International Cultures
  3. Course Index
  4. Graduate Degree Programs Bulletin
  5. General Education: Arts
  6. General Education: Humanities
  7. General Education: Health and Physical Activity
  8. General Education: Natural Sciences
  9. General Education: Social and Behavioral Sciences
  10. General Education: Writing/Speaking