VCU adds nuclear engineering track to its master’s program
- January 1, 2008
by Heather B. Hayes
Virginia Commonwealth University has added a nuclear engineering track to its master’s in engineering degree program at a time when the state’s largest electric utility is considering the construction of a new nuclear reactor.
The program currently has 25 students, many of whom are employees of Dominion Resources Inc. The 30-credit course of study includes nuclear engineering and mechanical engineering, as well as business and finance subjects.
Dominion decided to help fund the VCU program for several reasons, says company spokesman Richard Zuercher: The utility soon will lose many of its nuclear engineers to retirement, and it may expand its use of nuclear power.
In November, Dominion filed a request with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build a third nuclear reactor at its North Anna Power Station in Louisa County. The company has not committed to building the plant, but it wants to keep the option open as statewide demand for power increases.
The nuclear engineering program is not intended solely for Dominion, says Georgia Esposito, a spokeswoman for the VCU College of Engineering. The use of nuclear materials is widespread in Virginia, she notes. Other likely employers include shipbuilding companies, nuclear services firms and hospitals.
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