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Zeanah Engineering Complex

UT to Offer Nuclear Engineering Minor

The University of Tennessee will establish a new program for non-nuclear engineers to obtain a minor in nuclear engineering through funding from Tennessee’s Nuclear Energy Fund.

The news was announced Thursday, May 16, by Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter. Roane State Community College will also receive funding to purchase laboratory equipment for its inaugural nuclear technology program.

The UT minor launches in the fall of 2024 utilizing current courses. However, the university plans to develop three new courses in the future specifically designed to provide students with a customized curriculum to better meet industry needs.

Expanding Nuclear Education

“Our administration created the Nuclear Energy Fund in partnership with the Tennessee General Assembly to support and expand the state’s nuclear ecosystem,” Gov. Lee said. “Tennessee has the right assets in place to become a top state for energy independence, and we are proud to partner with the University of Tennessee and Roane State Community College to upskill our talented workforce and better prepare Tennesseans to enter the nuclear field.”

nuclear engineering plantThe minor in nuclear engineering at UT will provide engineering students with an understanding of the fundamental concepts of nuclear engineering to prepare them for careers in the nuclear industry and meet industry needs.

Investing in Nuclear Growth

Only 10 to 15 percent of the workforce at a typical nuclear power facility are nuclear engineers. Utilities and companies in the nuclear industry must initially provide extensive training in areas such as nuclear safety culture, licensing and regulations, and other foundational nuclear engineering topics.

Interested students can tell their advisors that they are pursuing the NE minor, and they will receive the guidance needed to integrate it into their current curriculum through proper choice of technical electives.

“This is indeed an exciting time for nuclear growth in Tennessee, and we are eager to offer this nuclear power engineering minor to better prepare our engineering graduates to meet the growing needs of the nuclear community,” said Nuclear Engineering Department Head Wes Hines. “Our expertise in these areas, combined with access to top-notch facilities, will provide students with an educational opportunity they can’t get anywhere else and put them in a position to be immediately sought after by industry for their skills.”

The Nuclear Energy Fund was in Gov. Lee’s recommended 2023–2024 budget and approved by the Tennessee General Assembly. The $50 million fund aims to expand Tennessee’s nuclear development and manufacturing ecosystem.

The fund assists nuclear power-related businesses choosing to relocate or grow in the Volunteer State and supports the state’s universities and research institutions in further developing their nuclear education programs.


Rhiannon Potkey (865-974-0683,