Nuclear Studies

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Center for Nuclear Studies

Southern Polytechnic State University
Center for Nuclear Studies
Engineering Technology - Q 320
1100 S. Marietta Parkway
Marietta, GA 30060

Phone 678 915-5531








Academic Courses

The School of Engineering at SPSU offers a course of studies leading to a minor in Nuclear Engineering. The program is offered through the Systems and Mechanical Engineering Department. The purpose of the program is to educate the participating students with the fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering, Nuclear Energy Conversion and Radiation Detection and Protection. Graduates can seek career opportunities in the nuclear industry or pursue graduate studies in Nuclear Engineering. The Nuclear curriculum consists of a minimum of 18 credit hours and to receive the minor degree, students must pass 15 credit hours. Course offerings range from an introduction to nuclear engineering to more advanced topics in the field. The program is structured so that students receive a broad exposure to the principles of Nuclear and Radiological Engineering and learn how this technology is applied within the field of Nuclear Power Generation and other related industries.

To be eligible for the program, students must be in their sophomore year and have completed certain prerequisite course requirements. Descriptions of the courses and a course flowchart are listed below. For information about the availability of scholarships and required qualifications please click here. Interested students should contact the Center for Nuclear Studies at 678-915-5531 to answer any questions you may have.

Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering
SYE 3501
PHYS 2212 K - Principles of Physics II
Math 2255 - Calculus II

Course Description

This course provides an overview of the nuclear sciences field. Topics covered include: basic nuclear physics, radioactivity and radioactive decay processes, nuclear reactions, radiation detection, basic health physics, radiation protection, fission and fusion processes, neutron interactions, nuclear energy conversion, different nuclear reactors, reactor operations, reactor control, and basic nuclear fuel cycle processes.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the basic nuclear structure, the nuclear decay process and interaction of radiation with matter.
  2. Become familiar with the sources of radiation and learn the fundamentals of radiation detection and biological protection.
  3. Understand the fission and the fusion processes.
  4. Become familiar with different types of nuclear reactors.
  5. Learn about the design and operation of reactor safety systems.
  6. Understand the fundamentals of the nuclear fuel cycle and its related issues.
  7. Learn about the applications of nuclear technology and radiation in industry and medicine.

Radiation Detection and Measurement
SYE 3502
SYE 3501 - Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering

Course Description

The detection and measurement of radiation is an integral component of the nuclear sciences field. This course covers the sources and properties of nuclear radiation, mechanism of radiation interaction with matter, detection methods and in particular detection of ionizing radiation that are of primary interest in nuclear power generation as well as medical and industrial applications. Various types of radiation detectors, neutron detection techniques and counting statistics are also discussed.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand radiation interaction and detection methods.
  2. Learn the design principles of different radiation detectors and how they work.
  3. Understand neutron interaction and detection methods.
  4. Understand the statistical nature of radiation measurement and the statistics of radiation counting.
  5. Learn the techniques and applications of radiation spectroscopy.

Nuclear Power Generation
SYE 4501
SYE 3501 - Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering

Course Description

This course covers the principles of nuclear energy conversion to electric power. The content of the course includes: fundamentals of energy conversion, fission reactors, design and construction of light water reactors with emphasis on boiling water and pressurized water reactors, gas cooled reactors, fast breeder reactors, thermal and structural analysis of reactors and plant components, safety elements and accident prevention systems. The economic feasibility of nuclear power plants will also be discussed.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the fundamentals of nuclear power generation.
  2. Learn about various types of reactors, their designs and operational characteristics.
  3. Understand the concept and design of light water reactors.
  4. Learn the fundamental designs of Boiling Water Reactors (BWR's), their characteristics, operational aspects, control elements and stability.
  5. Become familiar with the major components of the BWR reactors including the coolant system, power generation elements and control systems.
  6. Learn the design principles of Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR's), their primary and secondary loops, steam generators and reactor control systems.
  7. Understand the functional aspects of PWR's, steady state operation, transients, reactivity and power control, emergency systems and associated procedures.
  8. Become familiar with the operational aspects of different PWR and BWR reactor designs.
  9. Understand the economics of nuclear power generation and be able to perform feasibility analyses for nuclear power generation.

Radiation Protection and Health Physics
SYE 4502
SYE 3501 - Fundamentals of Nuclear Engineering

Course Description

This course covers the fundamentals of individual and population health protection against the harmful effects of radiation. Topics included are: different sources of radiation, interaction of radiation with matter, radiation exposure principles and measurement, relationship between radiation exposure and biological damage, radiation protection and safety standards and guidelines, radiation protection instrumentation, internal and external radiation protection, pathways of radiation movement in the environment, and radiation shielding.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the nature of radioactivity and transformation mechanisms.
  2. Understand the mechanism of radiation interaction with matter.
  3. Become familiar with methods or radiation measurement.
  4. Understand the physical and biological effects of radiation.
  5. Learn the radiation protection standards, guidelines and recommendations.
  6. Become familiar with the type of instrumentation used in radiation measurement and protection.
  7. Understand the elements of radiation exposure, protection and shielding.
  8. Differentiate between various radiation sources, exposure, pathways and their related risks.
  9. Learn to calculate radiation exposure and perform associated risk analysis.
  10. Learn about the methods and approaches for implementation of a radiation protection program.

Nuclear Fuel Cycle
SYE 4503
SYE 4501 - Nuclear Power Generation

Course Description

The feasibility and operation of nuclear power plants is directly influenced by the availability of suitable nuclear fuel as well as acceptable methods of disposal of nuclear waste. This course covers the progression of the nuclear fuel through different stages of mining, milling, processing, enrichment, fabrication and use in reactors, interim storage, reprocessing and disposal. The environmental impact of nuclear waste, economics of the nuclear fuel cycle, challenges and solutions in the management of radioactive waste and the prevailing regulations, standards and best practices are discussed.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand the complete nuclear fuel cycle form mining to disposal.
  2. Learn the techniques in mining and processing of nuclear fuel.
  3. Understand the requirements for various enrichment levels and methods for achieving such enrichments.
  4. Understand the production and management of nuclear waste in nuclear power plants and industrial use.
  5. Learn the applications and methods of nuclear waste reprocessing, its advantages and disadvantages.
  6. Understand the complexities and challenges involved in the long term storage and disposal of nuclear waste material.
  7. Understand the environmental impact of nuclear power generation.

 Nuclear Power Option - Systems Engineering

For academic course schedules and further information please contact the Center for Nuclear Studiesor check the SPSU course listings.