BNFL waste encapsulation  plant. (Picture courtesy BNFL)

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Nuclear Engineering involves the exploitation of nuclear energy and nuclear radiation for the benefit of mankind

Ever since the discovery of radioactivity and nuclear radiation over a hundred years ago nuclear phenomena have been used to provide tangible benefits in medicine, in fundamental scientific advances in nuclear and non-nuclear disciplines, in industrial processes and in the large scale production of electric power.

Nuclear Engineering is a career for those people who can identify hazards, are dedicated to safety and who understand the balance of risks and benefits

The exploitation of nuclear technology is controversial.  We have been aware of the hazards involved with nuclear radiation almost since the time at which it was discovered.  The potential hazards cause concern amongst the public.  However no human activity is perfectly safe and our survival as a species has depended on us identifying hazards both natural and man-made and existing with them in the safest possible manner often trading off one hazard against another.

Those who work as nuclear engineers understand the hazards and the importance of exploiting nuclear technology safely.  They are a concerned group of people, concerned that the benefits of nuclear technology should be available to mankind with the highest standards of safety.  For this reason the results of the work of the nuclear engineer benefit from an extraordinary degree of safety.

Working in nuclear engineering is a safe occupation by any standards;  much safer than most other industrial occupations by any yardstick of comparison.

A career in nuclear engineering is for those people who can identify hazards, are dedicated to safety and who understand the balance of risks and benefits.

The Work of a Nuclear Engineer

Nuclear engineers are most closely associated with the production of electric power from nuclear energy. However they are also employed in other aspects of the exploitation of nuclear technology and associated environmental protection work.

The nuclear engineer may be employed in any of a wide variety of roles for example in fundamental research, development of relevant technologies, design of nuclear plant and systems, manufacture of nuclear components and equipment, management and construction of projects, operation of nuclear installations, environmental monitoring and protection, licensing and regulation and in many other associated key positions.

The range of occupations is so diverse that attempting to give details in a short introduction like this would not tell very much.

If you want further details there are a number of useful sources of information based on the major employers in the nuclear industry and the principal industry associations.

The following Internet sites are useful starting points for further information:

The World Nuclear Association web site provides a valuable resource on nuclear technology related issues.

The Nuclear Industry Association (formerly the British Nuclear Industry Forum until 11 June 2003) is the principal trade association for companies involved in nuclear technology in the UK The web site includes profiles of all member companies, not only the principal companies but also many smaller ones.

Some information on career opportunities can be gleaned from the profiles of work undertaken by these companies. Many of the web sites of these companies provide additional information not only on career opportunities but also on nuclear technology issues.

The Engineering Council web site provides a definitive mine of information on engineering careers in general.

Membership of the Institution of Nuclear Engineers

The Institution maintains a range of grades of membership covering all who are active in nuclear engineering and technology.

The student grade is designed for all students over the age of 16 who have an interest in nuclear technology.

Further information on membership is available from: The Secretary, The Institution of Nuclear Engineers.