Just as interest in nuclear power may be reviving, the nation will be running low on the nuclear engineers needed to keep reactors running.
With President George W. Bush promoting nuclear power as a viable energy source, the interest in nuclear engineering is returning, says Dr. Akira Tokuhiro, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at UMR.
"The U.S. is currently about 350 nuclear engineers short of what it needs," says Tokuhiro, who is also director of the UMR Nuclear Reactor. "Last year, only 130 bachelor of science degrees in nuclear engineering were awarded to graduates across the U.S."
Tokuhiro adds that based on the shortage of engineers and graduates the average nuclear engineering student will receive about three job offers by graduation. "Colleges and universities are seeing a turnaround in student interest in nuclear engineering," he says.
"UMR is producing nine to 15 graduates a year, and we are currently fifth in the nation in terms of graduation rate at the B.S. level," he says. "If we had four or five more seniors we would be number one or two." In addition, UMR has a high enrollment of women students in nuclear engineering. "About 25 percent of our students are women," Tokuhiro says.