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The Nuclear Engineering And Mechanical Engineering Concurrent Majors Program At The Pennsylvania State University

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2003 Annual Conference


Nashville, Tennessee

Publication Date

June 22, 2003

Start Date

June 22, 2003

End Date

June 25, 2003



Conference Session

Trends in Nuclear Engineering Education II

Page Count


Page Numbers

8.1156.1 - 8.1156.9



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Paper Authors

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Robert Edwards

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Lawrence Hochreiter

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Laura L. Pauley

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

Session 2677

The Nuclear Engineering and Mechanical Engineering Concurrent Majors Program at the Pennsylvania State University

L. L. Pauley, R. M. Edwards, L. E. Hochreiter Department of Mechanical And Nuclear Engineering The Pennsylvania State Univers ity


A mechanical & nuclear-engineering concurrent majors program has been developed at the Pennsylvania State University with the intent of increasing the interest and enrollment in the nuclear engineering area. The program closely integrates both the mechanical and nuclear engineering required courses into a logical sequence such that it requires only a slightly higher academic load during the semester as well as one additional semester of work. Upon successful completion of the program, the student receives two separate Bachelor of Science degrees, in nuclear and mechanical engineering. The program has gained significant popularity at Penn State with thirty-two students currently enrolled.


By the mid 1990’s, the undergraduate enrollment in nuclear engineering, across the nation, had significantly decreased such that many Nuclear Engineering Programs and Departments were discontinued or merged into other programs. Some of the mergers resulted in the eventual disappearance of the Nuclear Engineering Program as a viable degree-granting program. While the undergraduate-program enrollment decreased nationwide, the nuclear-engineering graduate programs remained strong and continued to attract students from overseas as well as some students from the United States and the Americas.

A similar undergraduate enrollment situation existed at The Pennsylvania State University (PSU), which has one of the oldest nuclear-engineering undergraduate programs in the United States. Discontinuation of the program was not considered as an option due to the large percentage of nuclear-generated electrical power within Pennsylvania (40%) and the large corporate and federal nuclear organizations within the state, which contribute significantly to the state employment and revenue.

The approach taken at PSU was to merge the Nuclear Engineering Program, as a separate degree granting program, with the Mechanical Engineering Program into a single Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering Department (MNE). Part of the rational for the merger was that there are several commonalties between the two programs and that there was hope that nuclear engineering might be able to attract students from mechanical engineering, which was over- subscribed. The merger has been a success and the enrollment in nuclear engineering has significantly increased over the last five years. The enrollment increases are due to active recruiting of high school students, a more favorable impression of nuclear power as a viable

Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright © 2003, American Society for Engineering Education

Edwards, R., & Hochreiter, L., & Pauley, L. L. (2003, June), The Nuclear Engineering And Mechanical Engineering Concurrent Majors Program At The Pennsylvania State University Paper presented at 2003 Annual Conference, Nashville, Tennessee. 10.18260/1-2--12113

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