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Nuclear Electives

Suggested Courses for ME Students Interested in Nuclear Engineering, updated March 2020.


Students in the Nuclear Engineering minor can count some of their minor courses toward technical elective credit for the Mechanical Engineering major. Please review the Nuclear Minor checksheet on the Registrar's website if you are enrolled in the minor. Note, all courses taken for a minor must be taken A-F. For more information, please see the Nuclear Engineering minor website.

Technical Electives

Mechanical Engineering majors must complete 12 credits of tech electives; no more than 3 credits can be used from List #2, with 6 credits of 3000- or higher level ME and/or NSEG subject courses.  Be sure to consult the graduation checksheet for the year in which you entered Virginia Tech for to see a full list of approved technical electives and the rules for technical elective selection. Please see the Timetable of Classes for course availability, which can change without warning.  Most technical electives are taught no more than once per year.            

List #1 Technical Electives

NSEG 3145: Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering (3 credits) -  Fall only
Application of fundamental principles of neutron physics and reactor theory. Introduction to nuclear cross-section data, neutron scattering, nuclear fission, and diffusion theory. Examination of current and next generation nuclear power. Pre: MATH 2214 or MATH 2215H.

NSEG 3146: Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering (3 credits) - Spring only
Application of fundamental principles of neutron physics and reactor theory. Calculation of critical mass and dimensions of a reactor using modified one-group theory; reactivity changes in the core due to control rods, chemical boron shim, temperature changes, and fission production poisons. Determination of reactor thermal design criteria. Introduction to radiation protection and reactor accident analysis. Nuclear engineering ethics principles. Pre: NSEG 3145 or ME 3145

NSEG 3604: Radiation Detection & Shielding (3 credits) - Check timetable for current course offerings.
Radioactive decay, interaction of charged particles and photons with matter, methods of radiation detection and radiation dosimetry, counting statistics, radiation protection criteria and exposure limits, external radiation protection using time, distance and shielding. Pre: PHYS 2306 Co: MATH 2214

NSEG 4204: Nuclear Fuel Cycle (3 credits) - Check timetable for current course offerings.
Uranium nuclear fuel cycle: mining, conversion, enrichment, fuel manufacturing, in-core fuel management and refueling, spent fuel storage, reprocessing/recycling and final disposition as waste in a geologic repository. Introduction to nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation as applied to each step of the cycle. Pre: NSEG 3146

NSEG 4214 Nuclear Power Plant Operations (3 credits) - Check timetable for current course offerings.
Emphasis on pressurized water reactor plant operations. Review of boiling water reactor operations. Detailed system functions and operation, reactor plant startup and shutdown procedures, reactor refueling, reactor plant safety analysis, reactor plant licensing, ethics and integrity in the nuclear industry. Pre: NSEG 3146 UG/G and Dual students should enroll in NSEG 5214

NSEG 4424 Reactor Thermal Hydraulics (3 credits) - Check timetable for current course offerings.
Fundamental processes of heat generation and transport in nuclear reactors: reactor coolant systems and components, heat generation and spatial distribution, heat transport by conduction and convection, single-phase flow, two-phase flow and boiling, critical heat flux. Pre: NSEG 3145

NSEG 5204:  Nuclear Fuel Cycle (3 credits). Graduate standing required. Check timetable for current course offerings.
Uranium nuclear fuel cycle: mining, conversion, enrichment, fuel manufacturing, in-core fuel management and refueling, spent fuel storage, reprocessing/recycling and final disposition as waste in a geologic repository. Introduction to nuclear safeguards and nonproliferation as applied to each step of the cycle.

NSEG 5214: Nuclear Plant Systems & Ops (3 credits). Graduate standing required. Check timetable for current course offerings.
Pressurized and boiling water reactors, detailed system functions and operation, reactor plant startup and shutdown procedures, reactor trip and casualty procedures, reactor transient response analysis, reactor plant licensing, ethics and integrity in the nuclear industry. PRE: NSEG 5114

NSEG 5424: Reactor Thermal Hydraulics (3 credits). Graduate standing required. Check timetable for current course offerings.
Fundamental processes of hear generation and transport in nuclear reactors. Heat generation by fission and radiation interactions; spatial distribution of heat generation; heat transport by conduction and convection. Effects of boiling and critical heat flux. Fundamentals of reactor thermal and hydraulic design. Pre: NSEG 5114

MSE 4384: Nuclear Materials (3 credits) - Graduate standing required. Check timetable for current course offerings.
An introduction to materials for nuclear applications with emphasis on fission reactors. Fundamental radiation effects on materials; material properties relevant to structural, moderator, reflector, blanket, coolant, control shielding and safety systems; processes such as nuclear fuel cycles, fuel enrichment and reprocessing; and related structural systems. Pre: (MSE 3044 or ME 3304), (MSE 3054 or ESM 3054 or ME 3614).

Technical Electives

Please see your graduation checksheet to verify technincal elective requirements.