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Rising enthusiasm for nuclear engineering at KTH - exploring the driving factors

group of students
Students of the Masters Programme in Nuclear Energy Engineering, Photo: Jan Dufek
Published Sep 26, 2023

Interest in studying nuclear engineering at KTH has historically been strong, but in recent years there has been a surge of enthusiasm for the subject. Jan Dufek, Programme Director for the MSc in Nuclear Energy Engineering, has shed light on the possible contributing factors.

Students has been drawn to nuclear engineering because of its versatile applications, including nuclear power generation, medical imaging, and medical treatment. Some are attracted to nuclear engineering as it offers to address environmental concerns and for those with a strong affinity for physics and mathematics, nuclear engineering provides an intellectually engaging field of study.

Strong international approach

At KTH, students have the possibility to pursue either the standard Nuclear Energy Engineering Master's programme (TNEEM) or the European Master's in Nuclear Energy (EMINE).

“In the EMINE programme, which is one of the EIT InnoEnergy programmes, students study one year at KTH then continue with completing their studies at one of our partner universities in France. Additionally, we educate international double-degree students from the Engineering Physics programme who select the nuclear engineering track. While the enrolment figures for each of these programmes vary from year to year, it is clear that the overall interest has been consistently strong and has exhibited growth in recent years.”

“Approximately 85% of our students come from other, mainly EU countries. Fortunately, a significant portion of these students choose to stay in Sweden upon completing their studies and pursue careers within the nuclear power industry. Interestingly, the number of international alumni finding employment in Sweden surpasses that of our Swedish graduates.”

Attractive career opportunities

Graduates of this programme are equipped for a range of careers in the nuclear industry. In regions where there's a strong demand for nuclear engineers, the promise of competitive salaries also serves as a significant motivating factor for students pursuing this field.

“Common career opportunities include roles as nuclear power plant engineers, nuclear consultants, nuclear safety engineers, radiation protection specialists, nuclear waste management specialists, and nuclear researchers. Equipped with robust knowledge in thermal-hydraulics, reactor physics, radiation protection, and nuclear power safety, our alumni possess a versatile skill set that can be applied effectively in various professional roles.”

"Students also recognize the reliability of nuclear power as a consistent source of baseload electricity and foresee its continued development to meet the world's growing energy needs. Those interested in research also appreciate the attractive opportunities in nuclear engineering, including the development of innovative technologies and the improvement of the safety and efficiency of existing nuclear systems."

Addressing contemporary challenges

Nuclear engineering has long been considered a crucial field, but its importance in the context of the future energy landscape and global challenges like climate change and access to sustainable energy has become more apparent.

Nuclear power is immune to fluctuating weather conditions and as such differs from other climate-neutral electricity-generation methods like solar, wind, hydro, and wave power. It therefore stands as a suitable choice for meeting the baseload-electricity demands.

"Our programme equips students with the necessary skills for upcoming challenges by offering a range of unique courses such as 'Generation IV Reactors' and 'Small Modular Reactors'. Generation IV reactors provide a sustainable method of power generation by optimising fuel use and minimising long-term nuclear waste. These next-generation reactors will also excel in safety and reliability, surpassing their predecessors".

"Tackling technical challenges related to radiation damage in construction and fuel materials is a crucial consideration in the design of next-generation reactors. That's why we also offer courses in 'Radiation Damage in Materials' and 'Chemistry and Physics of Nuclear Fuels'. Our students also gain hands-on experience in designing and simulating new reactors using versatile Monte Carlo codes adaptable to various reactor designs.”

Text: Marta Marko-Tisch