Established in 1957, the Department of Nuclear Engineering is one of the oldest and most prestigious programs in the United States, consistently ranked among the top ten in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The department’s strengths include a well-developed research program; close ties with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Y-12 Nuclear Security Complex, UCOR, and several nuclear utilities; international research associations; and attractive graduate assistantships. Our faculty is internationally recognized for excellence in research and teaching.
Undergraduate students may elect a traditional nuclear power engineering track focusing on fission energy or a radiological engineering concentration, which prepares students for careers in the radiation safety field (health physics). Both programs are ABET accredited and job placement has been more than 90 percent, with those doing internships or co-op and having above a 3.0 GPA being near 100 percent.
The department offers graduate programs leading to Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. Research specializations include nuclear reactor fuels and materials, advanced modeling and simulation, nuclear security, nuclear fuel cycle, nuclear fusion technologies, radiological sciences and health physics, nuclear criticality safety, nuclear reactor dynamics and control, reliability and maintainability engineering, nuclear system reliability and risk assessment, radiation transport, and thermal hydraulics.
Because of our recent unprecedented growth to more than twenty full time faculty members, we are currently spread out over several buildings. To remedy that, programming of a new engineering complex was completed in 2014, with detailed design completed in 2016, construction started in 2017, and a move in date of 2021. This new facility will provide triple our current space with offices, classrooms, study areas, lounge areas, and twenty-three new state of the art laboratories dedicated to nuclear engineering.
Imagine a society that takes advantage of safe, secure, economic, and peaceful nuclear science and technology to tackle key needs in energy, medicine, and security. This is the vision that drives our department to develop the research, the technology, and the next generation of leaders who will accomplish this ambitious goal. Through strategic partnerships with government research laboratories, nuclear industry leaders, and other partner institutions, we are developing the advanced nuclear science and technology necessary to address the growing needs in energy and electricity production, medical treatment and diagnostics, structural materials modeling, and radiation detection for monitoring and nuclear security. Over the last decade, we have more than tripled our faculty, quadrupled our research productivity, and become a leader in developing engineers, scientists, and leaders. This transformational vision will continue to be powered by investments in state-of-the-art facilities, world-class faculty, and the brightest, most talented students.
Our mission is to:
- Produce high quality nuclear and radiological engineering graduates—from undergraduate through the doctoral level—in order to help meet the workforce needs of our state, region, nation, and the international community.
- Conduct nuclear and radiological engineering research to help meet the needs of society.
- Perform service for industry, government, professional organizations, and the public in areas related to nuclear and radiological engineering.