----- Original Message -----
From: Michael C. Baker
Sent: Thursday, December 19, 2002 11:24 AM
Subject: nuclear engineering update from AAAS web site
13 DECEMBER 2002
The demand for nuclear engineers is on the rise due to a rapidly
retiring workforce and a new focus on nuclear energy by the Bush
administration, according to a recent article in Graduating Engineer
& Computer Careers magazine.
Currently, the number of students graduating with degrees in nuclear
engineering is significantly less than the industry's demand for
these graduates. Even though no new nuclear power plants have been
built in the U.S. since 1978, ample job opportunities for nuclear
engineers exist both at the 103 nuclear power plants currently
operating in the nation and with the federal government.
The demand for nuclear engineering graduates is expected to flourish
throughout the next several years. Some experts are predicting that
up to 30% of the current nuclear engineering workforce could retire
within the next five years. This, combined with a renewed interest by
the federal government in using nuclear power as a viable energy
source, signifies good prospects for graduating nuclear engineers.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' Occupational Outlook Handbook also
predicts "good opportunities" for nuclear engineers through 2010,
although its outlook is considerably more conservative than the one
predicted by Graduating Engineer & Computer Careers magazine. In
2000, there were about 14,000 employed nuclear engineers in the U.S.,
with about 58% employed by utility companies, 26% by engineering
consulting firms, and 14% by the federal government. BLS is
predicting little or no change in the overall number of employed
engineers, but predicts that the number of graduates will be in
balance with the number of job openings resulting from nuclear
engineers transferring to other occupations or leaving the labor
Despite the anticipated demand for nuclear engineers, the number of
students receiving degrees in the field today is far less than it was
in 1992. Over the past ten years, the number of bachelor's degrees
awarded in nuclear engineering has declined steadily, from 262 in
1992 to 100 in 2001, according to data from the Engineering Workforce
Commission. At the master's level, the number of degrees awarded is
down from 208 in 1992 to 144 in 2001, although they reached a 10-year
high of 267 in 1996. And at the PhD level, only 82 degrees in nuclear
engineering were awarded in 2001, down from 125 in 1992.
Enrollments in nuclear engineering have also declined considerably
since 1992. At the undergraduate level, there were 1,497 students
enrolled in nuclear engineering in 1992, but that number has declined
steadily, falling to a low of 547 in 1998. Enrollments have increased
slowly since then, reaching 663 in 2001. At the master's level,
enrollments fell from 815 in 1992 to a 10-year low of 273 in 2001.
PhD enrollments also reached a 10-year low in 2001, falling to 457
from 646 in 1992.
To counter declining enrollments, Texas A&M, which has one of the
largest engineering programs in the country, garnered industry
support and began offering scholarships for nuclear engineering
students. Since instating the scholarship program, enrollment at
Texas A&M has increased from an all time low enrollment of 55 in 1998
to 134 in 2001.
For more information, see the Back-to-School 2002 issue of Graduating
Engineer & Computer Careers magazine.
Copyright © 2002 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.