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EXECUTIVE SU~Y BACKGROUND Nuclear engineering may be broadly defined as the discipline concerned with the utilization of nuclear processes and nuclear forces in engineering. The first formal U.S. academic programs in nuclear engineering were established in the mid-1950s. These early programs were at the graduate level, primarily emphasizing nuclear physics, reactor physics, and neutron transport analysis. With the emergence of the commercial nuclear power industry, undergraduate programs were established in the early 1960s. The initial growth of these programs was rapid: 80 nuclear engineering departments and programs had been established by 1975, along with 63 programs in health physics. This rapid growth created faculties composed of those who themselves had been educated--in the absence of nuclear engineering departments--in disciplines such as nuclear physics, radiochemis try, and electrical engineering. Nuclear science and engineering were glamour fields in the 1950s and 1960s, attracting students who were, on average, well above the norm for science and engineering students. This trend was promoted by the strong growth in the nuclear power industry, a relatively large number of fellowships provided by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), and the ample support of university research programs and nuclear reactors for research and education. The AEC awarded 129 graduate fellowships in nuclear engineering in 1963, and 76 university research reactors were in operation by 1970. Such numbers reflected a national commitment to the development of civilian nuclear power as expressed in the "Atoms for Peace" policy of the Eisenhower administration. During the last two decades, the national commitment to nuclear applications has weakened considerably. By 1987 only 27 university reactors were operating, and by 1989 the number of nuclear engineering degree programs declined to 39, and nuclear engineering concentrations to 18. Of these, 20 1
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2 programs had less than 20 students each; 50 percent of the students are in 14 programs. This decline has inhibited the addition of young faculty, who are needed for the long-term quality and vigor of any academic discipline. Over one third of the nuclear engineering faculty are 55 years of age or older, while only 16 percent are 40 or younger. This is approximately 10 years greater than the national average for engineering faculty. In the last decade, there has also been a 30- to 35-percent decrease in the number of undergraduate and graduate students majoring in nuclear engineering. Federal fellowships declined to as few as 8 in 1981, but there has been a modest increase over the past two years, with DOE funding 49 nuclear engineering fellowships (including in health physics and fusion). This pattern of decline in U.S. nuclear engineering education raises issues that may be vital to implementing U.S. energy policies and practices in the next 20 years. Will the decline in the number of programs continue? Has a "steady-state" condition been attained between the numbers of nuclear engineers being educated and the number that will be required? How will government and industry personnel needs change, if at all, in the next few decades? If demand increases, can programs expand readily to supply the needed personnel? Can any shortfall in supply be met by other physicists, radiochemists, or other engineering specialists? Are better students still being attracted to nuclear engineering? At the graduate level, will faculty research interests and activities be adequate to train the nuclear engineers likely to be in demand in the next few decades? Are current educational programs appropriate for future industry and government needs? What skills and education may be required for the next generation of nuclear engineers? These and similar questions motivated this study. To better understand the history, status, and future of U.S. nuclear engineering education, the committee interviewed and surveyed experts from academia, industry, and government. It sought a variety of documents, presentations and data to further its work. Three subcommittees or panels focused on major parts of the study's charge: the status of U.S. undergraduate and graduate education in nuclear engineering, with attention to such aspects as faculty age and research interests, and trends in student populations, curricula, instructional and research facilities, and funding; the educational needs of the next generation of nuclear engineers, with attention to curriculum changes that might be required and the adequacy of current university research programs; and projected personnel supply and demand for periods of S. 10, 15, and 20 years in the future, for both military and nonmilitary segments of the federal government, industry, and academia. The results of these three panels were integrated to produce this report and its findings, conclusions, and recommendations.
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3 These could serve to make available engineers who, with retraining, could meet some of the needs reflected in this report. However, at this point, the nature and the resultant effects are impossible to evaluate and the committee could not take this possibility into account. FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS The committee addressed a variety of issues to answer its charge. The following sections summarize the committee's findings and conclusions on nuclear engineering as a separate discipline, the status of nuclear engineering education, supply and demand issues, and future needs for nuclear engineering education. Nuclear Engineering as a Separate Discipline CONCLUSION: NUCLEAR ENGINEERING IS A BROAD, DIVERSE FIELD THAT IS VITAL AS A SEPARATE ENGINEERING DISCIPLINE TO U.S. NUCLEAR ENERGY PROGRAMS. Committee findings that support this conclusion include the following: o Nuclear engineering has unique academic requirements, including courses in reactor physics, reactor engineering, nuclear materials, reactor operations, and radiation protection. o Nuclear engineering requires knowledge of an unusually broad combination of mathematics, physics, and engineering processes relative to other engineering areas. o The complexities of reactor core physics, reactivity control, and radiation effects and protection tend to be handled best by nuclear engineers. o Nuclear engineering research extends from applied nuclear science through the development of near-term nuclear technologies. The reach is analogous to the electrical engineer's study of broad applications of electromagnetic phenomena or the mechanical engineer's study of fluid mechanics. Status of Nuclear Engineering Education CONCLUSION: SINCE 1979, NUCLEAR ENGINEERING ACADEMIC PROGRAMS AT BOTH UNDERGRADUATE AND GRADUATE LEVELS HAVE DECLINED IN TERMS OF (1) THE NUMBER OF STUDENTS ENROLLING IN SUCH PROGRAMS, (2) THE NUMBER OF SCHOOLS OFFERING NUCLEAR ENGINEERING CURRICULA, AND (3) THE NUMBER OF RESEARCH REACTORS ON UNIVERSITY CAMPUSES. Committee findings that support this conclusion include the following: o Undergraduate senior enrollments in nuclear engineering programs decreased from 1,150 in 1978 to about 650 by 1988. Enrollments in masters programs also peaked in the late 1970s, at about 1,050 students, and steadily
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4 declined to about 650 students in 1988. Since 1982, however, student enrollments in doctoral programs has remained relatively steady at about 600. o The number of U.S. undergraduate nuclear engineering programs declined from 80 in 1975 to 57 in 1989. 0 Two decades ago, 76 U.S. university research reactors were operating. By 1987, only 27 university research reactors were in operation at universities offering nuclear engineering degrees or options in nuclear engineering. CONCLUSION: TRENDS IN NUCLEAR ENGINEERING PROGRAMS THAT ARE OF CONCERN INCLUDE: (1) A SHIFT IN THE RESEARCH FUNDING AWAY FROM AREAS RELATED TO POWER REACTOR TECHNOLOGY, (2) PROBLEMS IN MAINTAINING LABORATORIES AND EQUIPMENT IN SUPPORT OF NUCLEAR ENGINEERING EDUCATION, (3) THE AGEING OF EXISTING NUCLEAR ENGINEERING FACULTIES AND (4) THE DECLINE IN NUMBERS OF NEW JUNIOR FACULTY MEMBERS. Committee findings that support this conclusion include the following: o Currently less than 20 percent of funded research in nuclear engineering programs concerns power reactors, although the greatest demand for bachelor's of science and, to some extent, master's of science comes from the nuclear power industry. o Because of the shift in research funding, graduate nuclear engineering education no longer focuses primarily on civilian nuclear power, but has broadened to include the utilization of nuclear processes and forces in diverse engineering applications, such as medicine, fusion, materials, and space applications. 0 The lack of adequate funding for teaching laboratories and equipment has required curriculum changes, diversion of funds from research, and other actions, to maintain the facilities needed for nuclear engineering programs. 0 The average age of U.S. nuclear engineering faculty is about 10 years greater than that of all engineering faculty, and only 18 percent of faculty qualified to teach nuclear engineering have less than 5 years of teaching experience. Failure to introduce young faculty will necessarily limit research development in many institutions and promises serious interruptions in future program continuity. CONCLUSION: THE CONTENT OF NUCLEAR ENGINEERING CURRICULA IS BASICALLY SATISFACTORY, THOUGH A.FEW MODIFICATIONS ARE SUGGESTED. Committee findings that support this conclusion include the following: o Nuclear engineering curricula cover more basic and other engineering sciences than other engineering programs. Formal course work in nuclear science is rarely required for students in other engineering disciplines, yet nuclear engineering curricula generally include more than five credit hours in each of chemistry, mechanics, electromagnetism and electronics, and thermal
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5 sciences, enhanced courses in physics, and uniquely, additional required credits in nuclear science. 0 The content of nuclear engineering programs is generally appropriate for the needs of employers of nuclear engineering graduates at all levels. o A survey of organizations that hire undergraduate nuclear engineers indicates a desire for increased oral and written communication skills, better knowledge of the nuclear reactor as an integrated system, and greater understanding of the biological effects of radiation. Supply and Demand CONCLUSION: THERE IS NOW A BALANCE IN SUPPLY AND DEMAND FOR NUCLEAR ENGINEERS. HOWEVER, EVEN IF THERE IS NO DEMAND GROWTH IN THE FUTURE, SUPPLY WILL NOT SATISFY EXPECTED DEMAND IF PRESENT TRENDS IN NUCLEAR ENGINEERING EDUCATION CONTINUE. Committee findings that support this conclusion include the following: o Current U.S. replacement needs for those with bachelor's, master's, and doctorate degrees in nuclear engineering are about 400 new labor market entrants annually. This demand roughly balances the current output of the educational system. o During the last decade, while the number of degrees awarded in quantitative fields increased at all degree levels, the number of B.S. and M.S. degrees awarded annually in nuclear engineering decreased. If current demand trends continue, a shortfall in supply will occur and grow with time. o The potential for increased demand is greater than the potential for increased supply, owing primarily to decreasing student populations. Significant shortages in nuclear engineers may be observed as early as the mid-1990s. CONCLUSION: THE GROWTH IN DEMAND FOR NUCLEAR ENGINEERS OVER THE NEXT 5 TO 10 YEARS WILL BE DRIVEN BY EXPANDED FEDERAL PROGRAMS. THE PROJECTED INCREASE IN ANNUAL DEMAND OVER THIS PERIOD EXCEEDS THE CURRENT OUTPUT OF NUCLEAR ENGINEERING PROGRAMS. THE PROBLEM IS EXACERBATED IN MANY CASES BY THE REQUIREMENT OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND SECURITY CLEARANCES FOR EMPLOYMENT IN GOVERNMENT PROGRAMS. Committee findings that support this conclusion include the following: o The expansion of federal programs in areas such as nuclear waste management and environmental remediation and restoration is expected to increase the annual demand for nuclear engineers by about 50 percent and 25 percent, respectively, in 1995 and 2000. 0 Although enrollment of foreign nationals in undergraduate nuclear engineering programs has dropped in the last decade from about 7 to about 2 percent, the non-citizen share of graduate student populations has been high in recent years. Currently the non-citizen share of master's and doctoral
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6 candidates represent about 30 and 50 percent of total candidates, respectively. 0 The employers of nuclear engineers that require U.S. citizenship and security clearances for employees (including the federal government, national laboratories, and weapons facilities) will be at a serious disadvantage in attracting quality graduates in the projected competitive hiring market. CONCLUSION: BEYOND THE YEAR 2000, THE DEMAND FOR NUCLEAR ENGINEERS WILL DEPEND ON THE VIGOR AND TIMING OF ANY RESURGENCE OF COMMERCIAL NUCLEAR POWER. SUCH GROWTH COULD DOUBLE OR TRIPLE THE ANNUAL DEMAND FOR NUCLEAR ENGINEERS. THIS DEMAND WOULD GREATLY EXCEED THE OUTPUT OF CURRENT NUCLEAR ENGINEERING PROGRAMS EVEN IF THEY WERE TO EXPAND TO FULL CAPACITY. Committee findings that support this conclusion include the following: o If there is a resurgence of nuclear power, the committee's best- estimate projection is that the annual demand for nuclear engineers would increase at least 200 and possibly 300 percent between 2000 and 2010. 0 Most nuclear engineering programs have the capacity for only modest expansion of either undergraduate or graduate populations without additional resources and faculty. To expand the undergraduate population would require diverting faculty and resources from the graduate and research programs and vice versa making major expansion at both levels together difficult. Undergraduate expansion is primarily limited by laboratory resources while graduate student expansion is primarily limited by resources for research and faculty for supervision. Continued erosion in faculty size over the next 5 to 10 years will limit institutions' ability to respond to increased demands for nuclear engineers in a timely fashion. Just using existing faculty engaged in sponsored research would require additional financial resources. Training and Education for Future Needs CONCLUSION: THE UNDERGRADUATE CURRICULUM FOCUSES ON POWER REACTOR SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY AND THIS EMPHASIS WILL CONTINUE TO BE APPROPRIATE IN THE FUTURE FOR MOST UNDERGRADUATE ENGINEERS WHO WILL ENTER THE UTILITY INDUSTRY OR THE ENGINEERING OR MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES THAT SUPPORT THE UTILITIES. MODEST BROADENING OF THE CURRICULUM IS DESIRABLE TO ADDRESS EMERGING REQUIREMENTS IN ENVIRONMENTAL AND SAFETY AREAS. IN GRADUATE PROGRAMS, RESEARCH RELATED TO POWER REACTORS HAS DECLINED GREATLY AS AVAILABLE RESEARCH FUNDING HAS BEEN DIVERTED TO OTHER AREAS. RESEARCH RELATED TO POWER REACTORS NEEDS TO BE EXPANDED TO ENSURE THAT FACULTY.RETAIN THE SKILLS AND ENTHUSIASM NECESSARY FOR THE UNDERGRADUATE CURRICULUM, WHICH IS DOMINATED BY POWER REACTOR TECHNOLOGY. Committee findings that support this conclusion include the following: 0 Bachelor of science graduates need strong skills in areas relating to nuclear power reactors because they are very likely to be employed in the
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7 nuclear power industry. This is also true, though less so, of master of science graduates. o Nuclear engineering curricula are properly focused on the fundamentals of the discipline but need modest broadening to respond to the following trends: the growing use of integrated systems approaches to evaluate reactor safety and risks, increased interest and concern about the biological effects of radiation, greater emphasis on radioactive waste management and related environmental remediation technologies, and the widely shared opinion of employers that graduates need improved oral and written communications skills ~ a concern common to all engineering disciplines and especially a problem given the many foreign students). O Currently there is a broad employment market for Ph. D. s in nuclear engineering, with the power reactor industry playing only a modest role. O Over the past 10 to 15 years, power reactor research has substantially declined. There has been some increase in research on fusion, space power applications, medical applications, and waste management. While research support levels are inadequate for the discipline, a broader-based research program on applications of nuclear forces and processes has emerged o There is a significant and growing mismatch between the research interests of the faculty and the subject matter of the undergraduate curricula. o University research reactors have substantially declined in number over the past two decades. These reactors are important assets for training, research, and testing for the nuclear engineering programs that have them, and can substantially add to the undergraduate and graduate educational experience. RECOMMENDATIONS The responsibility for a viable nuclear engineering education system is shared by the federal government, private industry, and the academic community. Because the likely near-term shortage (in the next 5 to 10 years) of nuclear engineers would largely owe to expanded government programs, DOE has added responsibility for near- term solutions (also see Chapter 7, Summary and Recommendations). Based on the study's findings and conclusions , the committee offers the following recommendations to decision makers in the three responsible sectors. Responsibilities of the Federal Government 0 Funding for traineeship and fellowship programs should be increased. O Additional research funds should be made available to support work on nuclear power reactors, especially for innovative approaches. Increasing the existing DOE research program from $4 million to $11 million per year is recommended.
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8 o Programs to attract women and minorities into nuclear engineering should be enhanced, a need sharpened by demographic trends. o DOE should consider providing funds for nuclear engineering participation in minority-oriented science and technology initiatives, notably those being established by~the National Science Foundation. o DOE should assess supporting the access, for educational purposes, of all nuclear engineering departments to the research reactors in the United States. o DOE should ensure that its personnel data base in nuclear engineering, based on its Survey of Occupational Employment in Nuclear Related Activities, promptly and accurately reflects supply and demand. Several actions should help accomplish this: - The definitions of the discipline and job skill requirements should be revised and clarified to better match those used by the sectors being surveyed. - Survey methods should be revised to ensure that no temporary assignments or offices are excluded and that all sectors of nuclear related employment and all appropriate employees more generally are included. - Survey questions and format should be reviewed both by professional questionnaire experts and by sector practitioners, to ensure thoroughness, consistency and clarity. - The present exclusion from DOE personnel data of those in the fields of fusion, education and academia, and the health-care industry, and of uniformed military personnel should be reexamined. Responsibilities of Industry o While the projected near-term need owes largely to government programs, any increased longer term need for nuclear engineers is likely to arise from the resurgence of nuclear power. For this reason, electric utilities and the supporting industry should increase their participation and support to help ensure the supply of properly trained people their programs will require. Such support should cover cooperative student programs, research sponsorship, scholarships and fellowships, seminar sponsorship, and establishing and supporting academic chairs. o Industry should continue working with the American Nuclear Society in support of its strong advocacy for nuclear engineering education, and with other professional societies, such as the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, that support the industry through codes and standards. Responsibilities of Universities o Nuclear engineering curricula should continue to be broad based. At the undergraduate level, however, programs should increase their emphasis on systems-oriented reactor engineering, study of the biological effects of
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9 radiation, and oral and written communication skills. At both undergraduate and graduate levels, more emphasis should be given to nuclear waste management and environmental remediation and restoration. O Research programs should include more research in reactor-oriented areas. 0 Nuclear engineering faculty should actively develop and seek support for research related to power reactors, nuclear waste management, and environmental remediation. o University administrators should develop innovative procedures, such as partial or phased retirement of older faculty to retain access to their special capabilities and skills, to allow the addition of junior faculty in a timely fashion.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: