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Posted: 11/1/2009 1:27:16 PM EST
I have a degree in Aerospace Engineering and have been in the industry, mostly .gov/defense, for about 7 years now. After surviving two waves of layoffs in the last year, I'm wondering about a career change. I was actually curious about this before the layoffs, but now I'm thinking a little harder.

I really do like my job, and the people I work with, but the future doesn't look optimistic. What is it like working in the nuclear industry? I think if McCain had won, I would have already started moving in that direction, but it's hard to make that jump with people like Obama in charge. Is there a future in nuclear energy, or are we going to be stuck with a severely handicapped coal industry and regular brown-outs?

I assume I would need some re-education. Would I need to start over with a BS in nuclear engineering, or is it possible to just look for a masters in same? I'm not sure how my current employer would feel about paying for a degree in nuclear engineering... would I be better to move into the nuclear field at a "lesser" job, and have them pay for my education? Or I should I work (on my own) towards a Nuclear Engineering degree, at any cost?

Any insight you guys could provide would be greatly appreciated!
Link Posted: 11/2/2009 12:07:34 PM EST
Bump, there has to be some bored nuclear engineer surfing Arfcom at work right now.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 5:34:17 AM EST
Last call...
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 5:55:56 AM EST
What about the Navy and their nuclear program?
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 6:04:14 AM EST
Go into consulting. Do not work at a plant. I have worked for a consulting company since I graduated with a degree in ME. However, everyone I work with has previous experience from a plant, and they say it was hell. Also, be wary (sp?) of very large companies like GE. I hear GE sucks to work for as well.

My company is pretty small (around 35 employees) and I love every aspect about it. We do mostly thermal performance and mod. packages. What kind of experience do you have from the aero. industry that makes you want to transition?
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 6:07:12 AM EST
my company does analysis work for nuclear plants. there's much red tape and bureaucracy to deal with at plants since they're so heavily regulated. i've heard an engineer say that the folks who are long term usually move slow and are very methodical, while new engineers typically get overwhelmed with all the regulations and small details in nuclear and get burnt out fairly quickly. i'm not sure about the job security part, but it does seem to be a huge pain in the ass.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 6:12:56 AM EST
Originally Posted By Captain_Morgan:
Go into consulting. Do not work at a plant. I have worked for a consulting company since I graduated with a degree in ME. However, everyone I work with has previous experience from a plant, and they say it was hell. Also, be wary (sp?) of very large companies like GE. I hear GE sucks to work for as well.

My company is pretty small (around 35 employees) and I love every aspect about it. We do mostly thermal performance and mod. packages. What kind of experience do you have from the aero. industry that makes you want to transition?


Yes, working in the field or in a plant can be hell, but it has really helped my experience and technical background. As long as you get to travel to these types of places during your consulting like I do now, its not as big of a deal but working on an offshore rig out of college (as well as for my father's construction company as I mentioned in the Dr. vs Engineer post) boosted my background big time. Hopefully you do not miss out on this.

I have worked in a nuclear facility for a week or so. 10x more training and certification than actual work. Cooper Nuclear in Nebraska. I too would like to gain more knowledge in this area but I don't see them building a cooling tower in Houston proper any time soon.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 6:20:51 AM EST
Perhaps cold-calling the engineering division of a local nuke plant, or the nuke engineering department at a college would yield dividends?

I think the ARFCOM Nuclear Engineering Bench is pretty thin. This came up when we were looking into buying a Soviet Submarine
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 6:23:58 AM EST

Originally Posted By QwikKotaTx:
Originally Posted By Captain_Morgan:
Go into consulting. Do not work at a plant. I have worked for a consulting company since I graduated with a degree in ME. However, everyone I work with has previous experience from a plant, and they say it was hell. Also, be wary (sp?) of very large companies like GE. I hear GE sucks to work for as well.

My company is pretty small (around 35 employees) and I love every aspect about it. We do mostly thermal performance and mod. packages. What kind of experience do you have from the aero. industry that makes you want to transition?


Yes, working in the field or in a plant can be hell, but it has really helped my experience and technical background. As long as you get to travel to these types of places during your consulting like I do now, its not as big of a deal but working on an offshore rig out of college (as well as for my father's construction company as I mentioned in the Dr. vs Engineer post) boosted my background big time. Hopefully you do not miss out on this.

I have worked in a nuclear facility for a week or so. 10x more training and certification than actual work. Cooper Nuclear in Nebraska. I too would like to gain more knowledge in this area but I don't see them building a cooling tower in Houston proper any time soon.

Don't get me wrong, I think that if you are going to go with consulting, it should involve field work. That is absolutely necessary to get the big picture idea of what your doing. I remember my first plant trip was to North Anna in Virginia. Since its a PWR, I got to go all around and see everything in operation. But like you said, working on site is mostly red tape bullshit.

BTW, I hear Cooper is brutal in the winter. One of the guys I work with worked on site there for a few years, and he said that he never wants to go to Nebraska in the winter time again.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 6:38:32 AM EST
[Last Edit: 11/3/2009 6:55:34 AM EST by MonkeyGrip]
I've worked in the nuke waste processing business for 16 years as a Chemical Process Engineer. Before that I worked in the Pulp and Paper industry and before that I worked at the Boeing Airplane Co. as a Mechanical Systems Engineer.

I would find a place to work, i.e. find an actual job in the nuke business that you want. Then tailor your resume to match the jobs they have. I don't think getting another degree would pay off. It isn't really rocket science in the nuke business, and I don't think there's anyone willing to pay big bucks for a second degree.
There's much paper work that really any engineer could do. Even the design Engineering (which I do in the nuke waste business) is not glamorous, because the trend is to take no risk, to just borrow some old proven design/concepts and hire many engineers to analyze and document that design to ensure it's safety/reliability under all the millions of scenarios that one can imagine. But there's also much Mechanical systems work and instrumentation, electrical, at least in the waste processing plant we're building, that I'm sure you could do. I would try to just get in, e.g. by taking some paperwork type Engineering job that wasn't so popular then, once in, transfer to a more interesting job.

Actual nuke power has been very slow in re-starting as far as I can see. It "should" be getting hot soon, but we may be dead before then.

Here is the plant/project I'm working on. I'm sure we have some open engineering jobs, and there's many others with our suppliers, contractors, and other companies/projects associated with this large nuke waste site and others like it around the country. Working on nuke waste (which is going strong now) could be good way to warm up before the nuke power rush. Then again, it's mostly just another somewhat boring, not particularly well paying, engineering job. It's OK though:

http://www.hanfordvitplant.com/
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 6:43:39 AM EST
Originally Posted By QwikKotaTx:
Originally Posted By Captain_Morgan:
Go into consulting. Do not work at a plant. I have worked for a consulting company since I graduated with a degree in ME. However, everyone I work with has previous experience from a plant, and they say it was hell. Also, be wary (sp?) of very large companies like GE. I hear GE sucks to work for as well.

My company is pretty small (around 35 employees) and I love every aspect about it. We do mostly thermal performance and mod. packages. What kind of experience do you have from the aero. industry that makes you want to transition?


Yes, working in the field or in a plant can be hell, but it has really helped my experience and technical background. As long as you get to travel to these types of places during your consulting like I do now, its not as big of a deal but working on an offshore rig out of college (as well as for my father's construction company as I mentioned in the Dr. vs Engineer post) boosted my background big time. Hopefully you do not miss out on this.

I have worked in a nuclear facility for a week or so. 10x more training and certification than actual work. Cooper Nuclear in Nebraska. I too would like to gain more knowledge in this area but I don't see them building a cooling tower in Houston proper any time soon.


i hear South Texas Project out in bay city is building another reactor.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 6:43:54 AM EST
[Last Edit: 11/3/2009 6:54:29 AM EST by ultramagbrion]
You can start by looking here.....................

http://www.ge.com/careers/


........and here..........

http://www.usa.siemens.com/en/jobs_careers.htm


One thing is for sure..........there'll always be a pretty good demand for power and the plants that make it, at least in OUR lifetimes.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 7:02:07 AM EST
Originally Posted By Captain_Morgan:

Originally Posted By QwikKotaTx:
Originally Posted By Captain_Morgan:
Go into consulting. Do not work at a plant. I have worked for a consulting company since I graduated with a degree in ME. However, everyone I work with has previous experience from a plant, and they say it was hell. Also, be wary (sp?) of very large companies like GE. I hear GE sucks to work for as well.

My company is pretty small (around 35 employees) and I love every aspect about it. We do mostly thermal performance and mod. packages. What kind of experience do you have from the aero. industry that makes you want to transition?


Yes, working in the field or in a plant can be hell, but it has really helped my experience and technical background. As long as you get to travel to these types of places during your consulting like I do now, its not as big of a deal but working on an offshore rig out of college (as well as for my father's construction company as I mentioned in the Dr. vs Engineer post) boosted my background big time. Hopefully you do not miss out on this.

I have worked in a nuclear facility for a week or so. 10x more training and certification than actual work. Cooper Nuclear in Nebraska. I too would like to gain more knowledge in this area but I don't see them building a cooling tower in Houston proper any time soon.

Don't get me wrong, I think that if you are going to go with consulting, it should involve field work. That is absolutely necessary to get the big picture idea of what your doing. I remember my first plant trip was to North Anna in Virginia. Since its a PWR, I got to go all around and see everything in operation. But like you said, working on site is mostly red tape bullshit.

BTW, I hear Cooper is brutal in the winter. One of the guys I work with worked on site there for a few years, and he said that he never wants to go to Nebraska in the winter time again.


When I went it was spring so real nice. They have these huge catfish with beaks that get sucked into the water intakes. I designed the trash raking machines that lifted them off the bar screens and dumped them into a dumpster via PLC control. Holy hell was that the worst smell on earth. Not much ventilation inside this building and it was hot, gross!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paddlefish

I was on site at Ineos recently and we climbed a lot of 300' towers without fall arrest in windy conditions so that was a low red tape environment but still lots of permitting before you even put your gloves on.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 7:32:55 AM EST
[Last Edit: 11/3/2009 8:04:53 AM EST by 30Caliber]
I am looking at going back into that area. KAPL is hiring.
Link Posted: 11/3/2009 9:04:03 AM EST
Originally Posted By yumbeef:
Originally Posted By QwikKotaTx:
Originally Posted By Captain_Morgan:
Go into consulting. Do not work at a plant. I have worked for a consulting company since I graduated with a degree in ME. However, everyone I work with has previous experience from a plant, and they say it was hell. Also, be wary (sp?) of very large companies like GE. I hear GE sucks to work for as well.

My company is pretty small (around 35 employees) and I love every aspect about it. We do mostly thermal performance and mod. packages. What kind of experience do you have from the aero. industry that makes you want to transition?


Yes, working in the field or in a plant can be hell, but it has really helped my experience and technical background. As long as you get to travel to these types of places during your consulting like I do now, its not as big of a deal but working on an offshore rig out of college (as well as for my father's construction company as I mentioned in the Dr. vs Engineer post) boosted my background big time. Hopefully you do not miss out on this.

I have worked in a nuclear facility for a week or so. 10x more training and certification than actual work. Cooper Nuclear in Nebraska. I too would like to gain more knowledge in this area but I don't see them building a cooling tower in Houston proper any time soon.


i hear South Texas Project out in bay city is building another reactor.


That's the only one within driving distance that I am aware of. If the oil/gas industry totally dries up I would definitely consider the field. Hoping that doesn't happen.
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