Former M.Sc. Program Nuclear Safety Engineering

 

In Germany a decision was made to gradually stop using nuclear energy by 2022. During the course of controversial discussions, the question always arose, whether or not it made sense to study nuclear energy in Germany. This question can be answered with a resounding „yes“!

No matter what one's position on nuclear energy is – whether for it or against it – there will be a number of questions and problems in Germany, with which our society will have to deal with and which are needed for nuclear technology. Professionals are urgently needed for the operation, maintenance, shutdown, and removal of nuclear facilities, research on final disposal, reactor safety research, radiation protection, and the treatment and characterization of radioactive waste.

All nuclear technology fields lack qualified professionals today. Know-how within the field of nuclear technology is being unavoidably lost piece by piece. In order to fulfill our responsibility, we need good and comprehensively trained engineers and scientists in the future, who are able to analyze complex relationships in this multi-layer discipline and to develop suitable solutions for the future that take safety aspects into consideration.

Nuclear energy as a career field is not only attractive because it offers graduates a number of different fields of activity. Despite all political discussions, it offers certain professional prospects for the future at the national and international level.

The Master's course of study in Nuclear Safety Engineering educates highly qualified professionals in the safety of nuclear facilities and institutions. The course of study teaches the complex relationships in nuclear technology – from obtaining the mineral resources to the safe operation of nuclear facilities to innovative technologies for processing and disposing. Two specializations are offered in this course of study: Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Reactor Safety.

Characteristics of the RWTH Course of Study

The Nuclear Safety Engineering Master course of study is intended for students and graduates from engineering and natural sciences disciplines who would like to specialize in the areas of nuclear technology and the nuclear fuel cycle. The ongoing integration of instructors from industry and research will ensure that the entire course of study is current and application-oriented. In addition, students can do their project and Master theses in renowned companies in the industry. Due to excellent supervisory relationships, Master's students can gain intensive insights into current research projects and participate in them.

 

Degree Content

During the first two semesters students learn application oriented content aside from the necessary fundamentals such as nuclear chemistry and nuclear physics. Students can select one of the specializations, either Nuclear Fuel Cycle or Reactor Safety, starting in their third semester. The fourth semester is reserved for finishing the Master's thesis.

 

Curriculum (simplified)

Mandatory Component

During the first two semesters, you will receive a comprehensive overview of the fundamentals. You will gain insight into the natural science and engineering foundation of nuclear technology and additional content such as radiation protection and safety analyses. In addition, you will study how to handle and characterize radioactive waste, legal issues in the area of administrative and permitting processes, as well as environmental law and the fundamentals of reactor technology and the nuclear fuel cycle.  In addition, you will participate in a nuclear technology measuring internship at the Forschungszentrum Jülich.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle Specialization

In this specialization you learn advanced information within the field of the nuclear fuel cycle. Thematic focuses include producing mineral resources, the removal of nuclear power plants, the disposal of radioactive waste, and the economic aspects of the fuel cycle. You will learn about obtaining and preparing uraniun ore, deal with the manufacture of fuel elements, the safety of recycling, and compare international final disposal strategies. Furthermore, you will work with international strategies for solving how to dispose of radioactive waste. Excursions to companies active in the fields mentioned above are part of the courses.

Reactor Safety Specialization

In the Reactor Safety specialization, you focus on reactory safey and reactor technology. You learn established knowledge about nuclear power technology and are able to work on problems regarding the construction of nuclear reactors, operational behavior, and the economic aspects of nuclear reactors. Elementary components also include the safety technology and instrumentation of nuclear reactors and the corresponding measuring technology, the effect of radiation of material characteristics, and the resulting material needs for safety components. You also participate in a reactor-physical internship. There you can test your knowledge on a test reactor.

 

Perequisites

A prerequisite for admission to the Nuclear Safety Engineering Master course of study is a recognized first academic degree in a mathematical, natural science, or engineering subject. The examination regulations contain the necessary background technical knowledge. The examination board determines whether or not the admissions prerequisites have been met.

 

Career Prospects

Graduates with a Master's degree in Nuclear Safety Engineering are specialists in the field of obtaining and handling mineral resources for nuclear technology. They also set benchmarks in reactor safety and research solutions for recylcing and disposing of radioactive waste that will remain relevant in the future. Career prospects encompass a broad spectrum of employment possibilities in the national and international energy sector.

Despite the energy transition, highly qualified professionals will be needed in the years to come in the entire nuclear energy field. This goes not only for the operators, but also the authorities, assessors, research institutions, and the nuclear technology industry. Specialists are needed for the operation, maintenance, shutdown, and removal of nuclear facilities, research for final disposal, reactor safety research, radiation protection, the treatment and characterization of radioactive waste, nuclear measuring technology, waste management, and nuclear medicine, such as imaging processes such as positron emission tomography or radiation therapy.