Nuclear engineering program at S&T to celebrate 50th anniversary

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On September 1, 2010

The nuclear engineering program at Missouri University of Science and Technology will be observing its 50th anniversary Sept. 17-18. The university started offering accredited undergraduate nuclear engineering degrees in 1960. Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in nuclear engineering have been offered since 1959 and 1965, respectively. The nuclear reactor on campus, the first in the state of Missouri, has also been in operation for approximately 50 years.

Reactor and laboratory tours will be conducted to commemorate the anniversary. Officials from the Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, national laboratories, nuclear vendors, and nuclear utilities have been invited to special seminars. Dr. Starnes Walker, director of research for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will deliver a keynote address. For more information about anniversary events, visit , email or call 573-341-4720.

Missouri S&T is one of only 22 universities in the nation to offer bachelor’s degrees in nuclear engineering — usually ranking in the top five programs in the nation in the number of undergraduate degrees awarded. Thirty institutions in the country, including S&T, offer graduate degrees in the discipline.

There is a big demand for nuclear engineers. The average starting salary for nuclear engineering graduates from Missouri S&T is $60,000. Most work for private utilities, national laboratories, nuclear vendors or the federal government. But nuclear engineers are also driving innovations in medicine and industry. In addition to making standard X-rays and radiation treatments possible, nuclear technology is used to detect and treat various kinds of cancer.

To generate interest in nuclear engineering, Missouri S&T hosts a summer camp for about 30 high school students each year. During the camp, students learn the concepts of half-life and shielding, and how to detect radiation and identify radio-isotopes. They also learn how to operate a nuclear reactor. This hands-on reactor operator training is only available at few university-owned reactors in the country. The nuclear reactor facility and the nuclear infrastructure at Missouri S&T are currently being upgraded with more than $1 million in funding from the Department of Energy and Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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