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Development Of Scale Based Educational Modules To Innovate Reactor Physics And Criticality Safety Curricula

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2009 Annual Conference & Exposition


Austin, Texas

Publication Date

June 14, 2009

Start Date

June 14, 2009

End Date

June 17, 2009



Conference Session

Curriculum Development and Teaching Models in NRE

Tagged Division

Nuclear and Radiological

Page Count


Page Numbers

14.484.1 - 14.484.11



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Paper Authors

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Brenden Mervin University of Tennessee, Knoxville

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Guillermo Maldonado University of Tennessee

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Development of SCALE-based Educational Modules to Innovate Reactor Physics and Criticality Safety Curricula


This paper addresses the development of a modular educational package based on the SCALE (Standardized Computer Analyses for Licensing Evaluation) nuclear analysis system1. The educational objective is to supplement theory with practice by introducing students to real-world type problems and demonstrating key concepts using modern nuclear analysis software. The educational package will consist of four independent educational modules, and each module will consist of three or more 50-minute lectures which will focus on one of the following specific areas: cross section processing, criticality calculations, lattice physics, depletion and spent fuel isotopics. These lectures will be developed to include optional problem sessions that can be carried out in and/or outside of class. This educational package is intended for use by college- level nuclear engineering departments and programs. However, it may also be used to supplement personnel training packages at organizations throughout the nuclear industry; such as the NRC and nuclear power utilities.

The first module currently being developed focuses upon the lattice physics aspects of nuclear reactor theory and design. This includes energy-based concepts; such as multi-group energy treatment, group collapsing, and resonance self-shielding, as well as spatial-based concepts of lattice designs; such as burnup asymmetries and cross section homogenization, as a few examples of effects which otherwise tend to be buried in the theory behind the scenes. However, a thorough understanding of these fundamental principles within reactor physics, criticality safety, and other closely-related subjects are of paramount importance to the instructional development of future generations of nuclear industry professionals, and thus will directly impact the successful deployment of future nuclear energy capacity. Thus, using SCALE to supplement nuclear engineering curricula provides an innovative approach to teaching applied topics involving engineering practices and advanced analysis methods.


Reactor Physics and Criticality Safety are key elements of applied nuclear engineering education and technology. Consequently, a thorough understanding of the underlying fundamental principles that support these and several closely-related subjects are of paramount importance to the instructional development of future generations of nuclear industry professionals. As a result of the evolution of calculation techniques and algorithms in many areas of nuclear engineering, most of the fundamental principles are now embedded in various computational software packages developed by nuclear fuel vendors, software companies, universities and national laboratories. These software packages have become a larger component of nuclear engineering practice, and therefore a gap presents itself as nuclear engineers transition from the classroom to the workplace. Furthermore, the currently increasing demand for nuclear engineers is persuading more nuclear engineers to explore their career opportunities immediately after receiving their undergraduate degree. This implies that most of these engineers will enter the workplace with little to no experience with computational software that is commonly used in

Mervin, B., & Maldonado, G. (2009, June), Development Of Scale Based Educational Modules To Innovate Reactor Physics And Criticality Safety Curricula Paper presented at 2009 Annual Conference & Exposition, Austin, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--5871

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