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Evaluation Of A Flexible Simulator Structure For Nuclear Engineering Education

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2002 Annual Conference


Montreal, Canada

Publication Date

June 16, 2002

Start Date

June 16, 2002

End Date

June 19, 2002



Conference Session

Trends in Nuclear Education II

Page Count


Page Numbers

7.535.1 - 7.535.7



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Patrick Tebbe

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Session: 2677

Evaluation of a Flexible Simulator Structure for Nuclear Engineering Education Patrick A. Tebbe, Ph.D. Department of Engineering The College of Engineering Ewing, NJ 08628


This paper will explore the design and structure of a distributed, multi-code, simulation program designed specifically for educational purposes. A brief review of current nuclear plant simulators will be covered. This will be followed by an examination of research aimed at interfacing a full scope simulator with new desktop interfaces. The results and recent technology improvements that support the concept of a distributed educational simulator will then be covered with examples of similar concepts from other fields given for comparison. Lastly the simulator concept (programming and classroom use) will be more fully described and progress to-date will be presented.


Since the incident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant the use of simulation has been a major component of nuclear power plant operator training. Today all plants maintain a full scope simulator, which reproduces the thermal hydraulic, reactor physics, and control functions of the plant. The interface for these simulators is a duplication of the reactor control room, down to the last meter and switch. In the past these simulators were powered by large mainframe or minicomputers, while today they can be supplied with data from workstations and high-end desktop machines.

These advances in computer technology now allow the same fidelity of the full-scope simulation to be brought into the classroom. In nuclear plants operators must have a knowledge and understanding of the fundamental processes, as well as the procedures required for plant operation. Other personnel in the plant also benefit from a greater understanding of how the plant operates. The same is true of academic education in nuclear engineering, where the emphasis is on the understanding of theory. However, this type of education differs from the traditional use of the full scope simulator. The full scope simulator emphasizes the control room environment and its representation of plant operation (skill-based behavior). This representation is often not the best suited for building a person's understanding (knowledge-based behavior).

Research indicates that more abstract and hierarchical interfaces, which rely less on real world fidelity and more on psychological styles, supports knowledge based behavior and learning [1]. At the same time a high level of computational fidelity is required to obtain the data powering the interface. From a programming standpoint the best programming structure

“Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002, American Society for Engineering Education”

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Tebbe, P. (2002, June), Evaluation Of A Flexible Simulator Structure For Nuclear Engineering Education Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--10759

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