Although a variety of college programs incorporate nuclear chemistry concepts into their curriculum, students select a suitable major depending on several factors, including individual career aspirations, academic abilities and availability of programs. All majors dealing with nuclear chemistry develop students' understanding of the potentially volatile processes and chemical reactions involved with the field, but the specific skills and concepts covered vary by program.
Nuclear engineering majors learn engineering principles needed to safely manage nuclear energy radiation and radioactive materials in the power industry or to develop and improve nuclear chemistry utilization in medicine or engineering fields, the College Board states. The University of California, Berkeley’s nuclear engineering program includes five training areas, including nuclear energy and nuclear materials and chemistry. Students design radioactive waste management procedures, analyze and implement environmental protection measures and develop radiation detection systems.
Some colleges offer nuclear chemistry training as part of their nuclear science programs, such as the nuclear and radiological services major offered at the University of Florida. UF’s program focuses on improving medical imaging, radiation detection and electricity production measures. Courses generally include several semesters of general chemistry, chemistry for engineers, organic chemistry, nuclear engineering analysis, radiation interactions, applied radiation protection and risk assessment procedures.
Colleges offering a nuclear medicine or nuclear medicine technology program teach students to diagnose and research radioactive treatment methods for a variety of diseases, such as cancer and heart problems, the College Board states. The University of Vermont’s nuclear medicine technology major incorporates chemistry, organic chemistry, biology and physics instruction, preparing students for careers as nuclear medicine technologists. Nuclear medicine technology programs teach students to interact compassionately with patients needing medical treatment and follow proper safety procedures such as minimizing radiation exposure, as the Bureau of Labor Statistic reports.
Nuclear Power Technology
Nuclear power technology majors prepare for hands-on careers working in and around nuclear power plants. Often offered through community colleges, these technical programs teach industry-specific techniques to understand how nuclear reactors operate. Terra State Community College reports its nuclear power technology courses cover basic thermodynamic power plant design, reactor theory instrumentation, process control, nuclear plant drawings, nuclear chemistry, radiation detection and thermo-fluid sciences. Graduates pursue jobs in nuclear industry careers such as radiation protection technician or nuclear plant operator, Columbia Basin College states.
- The College Board: Major: Nuclear Engineering
- University of California, Berkeley: Nuclear Engineering
- University of Florida: Nuclear and Radiological Services
- The University of Vermont: Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology
- The College Board: Major: Nuclear Medical Technology
- Terra State Community College: Nuclear Power Technology Major
- Columbia Basin College: Nuclear Technology
- Bureau of Labor Statistics: Nuclear Medicine Technologists
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