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Background

Nuclear power plants require a variety of technical disciplines in order to operate successfully. In the U.S. model, approximately 30% of the technical workforce are engineers holding a bachelor's of science degree. The other 70% of the technical workforce are plant technicians or technologists who typically have an associate of science degree.

For the engineers, a number of disciplines are needed besides nuclear, including mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, chemical engineers, civil engineers, engineering physicists and engineering technologists. However, utilities find it valuable for these engineers to have a prior background in nuclear power plant technology.

Nuclear Power Technology Certificate Program

To meet this need, and with industry input, the Nuclear Power Institute (NPI) developed a Nuclear Power Technology Certificate program for individuals interested in preparing themselves for a career in the nuclear industry. The required coursework is provided via distance education, and non-students with a bachelor degree in Engineering as well as Junior or Senior students non-nuclear engineering majors are eligible to earn this valuable certificate. The instructors hold Ph.D.'s in nuclear engineering, and several have nuclear power plant experience.

NPI has offered the Nuclear Power Technology Certificate program since 2010. The courses included in the certificate plan are provided by distance education at the following NPI partner universities:

To earn a Certificate in Nuclear Power Technology, an individual must successfully complete four courses (total of 12 credit hours). The course offerings are:

  • Nuclear Power Plant Fundamentals (3 CR, offered in Fall and Spring semesters)
  • Nuclear Power Plant Systems: Pressurized Water Reactors (3 CR, offered in Fall semester) OR Nuclear Power Plant Systems: Boiling Water Reactors (3 CR, offered in Spring semester)
  • Nuclear Power Plant Operations (4 CR, offered in Spring semester)
  • Human Performance For Nuclear Power Plant Engineers (2 CR, offered in Spring semester)

The course schedule outlined above is designed to encourage certificate program completion within one year. Since the Fundamentals and Systems courses are prerequisites for the Operations course, the recommended schedule is:

  • Fall semester: Fundamentals and Systems courses
  • Spring semester: Operations and Human Performance courses

However, if necessary, an individual can extend the certificate completion timeframe beyond one year. And for students concurrently pursuing a degree (e.g., bachelors or graduate), the certificate program can be completed after their degree has been earned.

Each course is delivered and evaluated as a distance education course (via the World Wide Web, http://nuclearpowerinstitutecourses.org). No on-campus class meetings are scheduled. Pre-recorded lecture videos as well as interactive online lectures, course materials (alternative to textbooks), handouts and resource links are available for downloading for those enrolled in a course. Typically, course requirements include homework assignments, exams, and quizzes. Expectations for a three-hour course includes online class meetings 3 times per week plus 6-9 hours per week dedicated to class preparation (e.g., working on assignments, reading course materials, studying for exams/quizzes). Expectations for a four-hour course include online class meetings 3-4 times per week plus 10 hours per week dedicated to class preparation (e.g., assignments, reading course materials, studying for exams/quizzes).

Click here to see course descriptions.

For students currently enrolled at Texas A&M University (TAMU) - College Station:
Since several types of engineers are needed in the nuclear power industry, this certificate is valuable for engineers in disciplines other than nuclear engineering.

TAMU-College Station students need to use the following course numbers when registering at http://HOWDY.tamu.edu:
Nuclear Power Plant Fundamentals (NUEN 432 - NPP FUNDAMENTALS)
Nuclear Power Plant Systems: Pressurized Water Reactors (NUEN 433 - NPP SYSTEMS-PWR)
Nuclear Power Plant Systems: Boiling Water Reactors (NUEN 434 - NPP SYSTEMS-BWR)
Nuclear Power Plant Operations (NUEN 435 - NPP Ops)
Human Performance For Nuclear Power Plant Engineers (NUEN 436 - HP)

Contact Dr. Galina Tsvetkova (tsvetkovag@tamu.edu) for more information.

For students currently enrolled at one of NPI's partner institutions:
The certificate program courses are provided by distance education at the following NPI partner universities (see list below). The courses will have assigned course numbers unique to that university. Interested students at these universities can get more information from the contact person listed below.

For students enrolled at other universities and colleges:
Contact Dr. Galina Tsvetkova (tsvetkovag@tamu.edu) for more information.

For non-students:
Contact Dr. Galina Tsvetkova (tsvetkovag@tamu.edu) for more information.

Current Nuclear Power Technology Certificate Program students go to http://nuclearpowerinstitutecourses.org.