Undergraduate student work in engineering lab

What do nuclear engineers do?

What is a nuclear engineer?

Nuclear engineering is a multidisciplinary field that goes beyond providing nuclear power for electrical production. Nuclear technology touches our lives in many ways and nuclear engineers solve everyday problems and contribute to our health and safety. Nuclear engineers may apply radiation in disease treatment and food supplies, operate nuclear energy systems, develop regulations to ensure safety, or facilitate space exploration.

Where do nuclear engineers work?

Becoming a nuclear engineer gives you the opportunity to help mold the future in exciting new ways. Many nuclear engineering graduates work for electric power companies that use nuclear power plants or help service and maintain these plants. Other graduates go on to work in industries that use radioactivity or radiation, such as medicine, food, and agriculture. These fields need nuclear engineers to detect problems, monitor processes, and protect the public. The federal government also hires nuclear engineers to design next generation reactors for submarines, aircraft carriers, and space probes; regulate nuclear power or radiation uses; and develop advanced technologies that will be used in future power plants. Some of the industries where nuclear engineers may work are:

  • Energy
  • Government
  • Medicine
  • Agriculture
  • Space


The Ken and Mary Alice Lindquist Department of Nuclear Engineering at Penn State is one of the top ranked nuclear engineering programs in the United States. The department distinguishes itself with a strong focus on experimental research. The actively growing department leads four educational programs for students pursuing a bachelor of science, a master of science, a master of engineering, or a doctoral degree. The Radiation Science and Engineering Center (RSEC) facilities, including the Breazeale Reactor, are available to nuclear engineering faculty and students at Penn State for research and instruction. RSEC houses the Breazeale Nuclear Reactor, the country’s first and longest operating licensed nuclear research reactor. Having access to an operating research reactor is a key strength for the department and enables Penn State to harness research and educational opportunities that are unique in the United States. See how we’re inspiring change and impacting tomorrow at nuce.psu.edu.

Department of Nuclear Engineering

206 Hallowell Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802-4400

Phone: 814-863-6222