Number Of Nuclear Engineering Graduates Spikes
The last time there were this many newly-minted nuclear scientists graduates Lyndon Johnson was president and Star Trek was having its debut.
Last month the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education reported that 195 nuclear engineering doctorate degrees were granted in 2018, the highest level in 52 years.
The number of students graduating with bachelors, masters and doctorates in the field have all been steadily rising since 2000.
Reasons for the increase were not reported. Most of the 2018 PhDs found work as U.S. Department of Energy contractors.
Authors of the study note that there will be work for PhDs to replace retiring nuclear engineers to keep existing plants operating. Nuclear engineering is not limited to power plant work but includes fields such as nuclear medicine, diagnostic imaging and cancer treatment.
The increase in advanced degrees counters the overall trend in the industry in North America: nuclear plants are shuttering due to high costs. Last month, Three Mile Island failed to secure financing in the Pennsylvania legislature and is slated for closure this September.
Worldwide, the number of nuclear plants could rise with power plants plants planned for China and the Middle East. Late last year, the Nuclear Energy Agency published a study stating that nuclear power plant build out is uncertain. If everything goes right for uranium, demand will surge by 45 per cent and nuclear power will produce 568 GWe by 2035. But if the pessimistic scenario unfolds, uranium demand will be cut by 15 per cent to 331 GWe over the next 17 years.Creative Commons image of graduates courtesy of US Department Of Education