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UT-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Computational Nuclear Engineering Brian Wirth receives a plaque from U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz

Research Opportunities

The department’s research program provides excellent opportunities for graduate students to participate in state-of-the-art research projects while satisfying their research requirements. The level of research funding and the number of graduate students involved in research have grown significantly in recent years. Research productivity in FY16 as measured by total sponsored research expenditures, increased to near $11 million, with new research awards outpacing expenditures. Graduate enrollment in the fall semester of FY16 was 134 students, and of those, 105 are PhD students, making our department the largest PhD program in the country.

The university’s association with ORNL, operated by UT-Battelle, provides facilities and research opportunities to students and faculty that are not available at any other US university. Research into many nuclear engineering problems may be conducted at ORNL by teams composed of faculty, graduate students, and ORNL personnel. We have similar arrangements with the Y-12 Nuclear Security Complex. The concentration of nuclear engineering activity in the Knoxville/Oak Ridge area also provides students with a unique opportunity to interact with outstanding researchers and provides access to numerous conferences and seminars held locally.

The department’s ties with industry have provided opportunities for students to implement and evaluate new technologies in a real-world environment. These projects have been conducted at TVA, Duke Energy Company, Electricité de France, Florida Power & Light, Northeast Utilities, Emerson Electric, Westinghouse, and many more.

Nuclear engineering students also have the opportunity to work on projects through the College of Engineering’s research centers such as the Scintillation Materials Research Center, a collaboration with Siemens Medical Solutions, and the Reliability and Maintainability Center. They also have unique access to facilities such as the UT Ion Beam Materials Laboratory (IBML). These centers are interdisciplinary research organizations that sponsor major research programs throughout the college.

Other interdisciplinary research organizations through the university include the Joint Institute for Computational Sciences (JICS), the Joint Institute for Advanced Materials (JIAM), and the Joint Institute for Neutron Sciences (JINS).