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May 29, 2024 | Tom Ballard

Tennessee Tech secures approval for state’s second undergraduate nuclear engineering program

Students can start enrolling this fall.

There’s a new nuclear engineering program coming the state starting this fall.

The announcement follows action by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission to formally approve the program for the College of Engineering at Tennessee Tech University (TTU) and ever growing interest in the nuclear sector across the state. When the Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering degree program launches as part of the 2024-25 academic year, it will be only the second such program currently available in Tennessee.

“We are extremely excited to offer a program in nuclear engineering at a time when it is needed most, as the industry will experience tremendous growth in the next two decades and the demand for nuclear engineers with bachelor’s degrees will dramatically increase,” said Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. “Graduates of Tennessee Tech’s Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Engineering degree program can expect to enter the workforce with state-of-the-art engineering knowledge and hands-on experience, and employers can expect them to have the same practical skills, strong work ethic, professionalism and tenacity for which Tech grads are renowned.”

Tech is launching the degree program to address impending demand for nuclear engineers across the country. In 2021 the Center for Energy Workforce Development projected a need for 15,000 nuclear engineering employees by 2026. The industry is undergoing a transformation driven by next-generation technology as small modular reactors recently approved by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission will likely increase the demand for nuclear engineers. In addition, the U.S. Department of Energy has invested more than $600 million since 2014 to support small reactor concepts. Around 20 percent of the nation’s electricity is generated by 92 existing nuclear reactors in 28 states, according to data from the Nuclear Energy Institute.

New companies coming to the state include Type One Energy Group Inc. which announced in February the company would invest $223.5 million to establish its headquarters and create a total of 330 new jobs in the Knoxville region to Kairos Power which is building two version of its Hermes reactor in Oak Ridge.

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