Feature Article

Nuclear Education and COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the United States on a wide basis in March of this year, and life as we knew it changed. “Social distancing” and “essential workers” entered the jargon and working from home for many became the norm.

The number of remote meetings skyrocketed, and various companies have seen that business can be conducted without having employees in the office.

For universities, distance learning has been common for a while now, but with COVID it has become essential.

Nuclear News asked some nuclear engineering professors about how their programs have been dealing with the pandemic. We posed three questions and asked for responses to any or all of them:

How has COVID affected your NE program, and what have you learned from the experience?

Has your NE program been able to contribute to your university’s broader COVID response (e.g., through research or volunteer programs)?

What opportunities or challenges do you foresee in the next year for your program and your students?

The following are responses received by NN.

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Nuclear engineering programs: Building the new nuclear workforce

In order to deliver the next generation of nuclear power plants, the nuclear community needs to overcome a number of challenges identified in 2017 as part of the ANS Nuclear Grand Challenges presidential initiative. Knowledge transfer is one of the nine challenges identified. The goal of the challenge is to “expedite updates to the higher education Nuclear Engineering curriculum to better match today’s needs.”

The Nuclear Grand Challenges report noted that “effective means to transfer that knowledge to the newest group of scientists and engineers needs to be developed and implemented. 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.”

Nuclear engineering programs at universities around the country are integral to training and developing the workforce to implement the next generation of nuclear energy. Nuclear News reached out to several such nuclear engineering departments, asking them to provide our readers with an update on how their unique programs are helping meet this important challenge.

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