Challenge: Expedite nuclear education updates and knowledge transfer.
How: Expedite updates to the higher education Nuclear Engineering curriculum to better match today’s needs. It must include the cross-disciplinary nature of today’s research and the business and communications skills needed for an entrepreneurial path, while improving the transfer of knowledge and expertise in nuclear science and technology from the current generation to future generations.
Background: The nuclear workforce is aging, and the current university Nuclear Engineering curriculum needs to be updated. The average age of nuclear scientists and engineers in the nuclear energy industry, national laboratories, and universities is over 50. These professionals have a wealth of knowledge that is not necessarily written in books. As these workers leave the workforce, much of that knowledge is being lost.
Effective means to transfer that knowledge to the newest group of scientists and engineers needs to be developed and implemented. Additionally, the Nuclear Engineering curriculum in U.S. universities stands essentially unchanged over the past 20-plus years. With the advent of new reactor designs and the challenges within materials science to meet the needs of these new designs, the curriculum structure must be reviewed and updated to better meet the needs of industry, suppliers, and research organizations. Inclusion of courses in advanced reactor design, small reactor design and operation, and materials science may need to be included. If we do not know our history, we are doomed to repeat our predecessors’ mistakes.