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Subject:  Re: Physics / Nuclear Engineering Date:  1/12/2012  10:05 PM
Author:  PaulEngr Number:  1572 of 1649

One is the one working on fusion energy, the tokamac reactor.

Half true. Actually it's different. Tokamak's have a linear "shape" but nonlinear magnetic fields. There is another type (whose name escapes me) that has a very nonlinear physical shape but very smooth, linear fields. That is the type that Princeton is working with.

The rest of the recommendations are all true for physics, especially in academia. Be aware that as a physicist, basically as mentioned the MS and BS are pretty much worthless. The most difficult part about the PhD is that you have to find something new to work on that no one has done before. And you can increment through a very long time looking at a particular problem and come up empty, in which case the time you spent is shot. It can take far longer to get to a PhD in physics than anything else.

Also, there are many routes to take in the world of nuclear anything. Engineers, especially mechanical, materials, and electrical, are always in very high demand, far more than physicists when it comes to running the place. At the current time and for the forseeable future if job availability is important, there has not been a "recession" since 2001 for any of these three engineering degrees. At the current time I'm averaging about 1 call every 1-2 weeks for electrical engineers. This is especially true if you can sound like you know how to spell the word "power". It's not a fad unlike say computer/digital electronics. This trend has been ongoing for at least 10-15 years and has no sign of letting up. It's the "infrastructure" problem that is driving it...all the build-up in the 1960's is now going on 40-50 years old and it's time for replacement. On top of that, the safety, reliability, and efficiency requirements are driving a greater need for engineers in those areas than ever.

This experience comes from routine contact with not only folks working in the nuclear business (including my uncle) but actually visiting a couple sites. If you intend on working anywhere other than research or maybe at one of the design/engineering/manufacturing firms (that rely heavily on new construction for staffing up), the opportunities are slim.

As to going into a "dying" industry, be careful with that approach. I've made a career of working mostly in a lot of "old tech" industries. On the surface it seems like some things are "dead" but the reality is that it just means the number of established players consolidates and the opportunities expand as a result.
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