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U.S. Naval Academy Now Offers Nuclear Engineering Major

Posted on: January 16, 2014 10:00 EST by Mass Communications Specialist Seaman Nathan Wilkes

U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen can now pursue a Bachelor of Science in nuclear engineering.

The new major in the Engineering and Weapons Division will be fully available starting with the Class of 2017.

Additionally, nine members of the Class of 2016 will take a sequence of courses to complete the new major, which will touch on fundamentals of nuclear power, radiation, and health physics, said Martin Nelson, a mechanical engineering professor at the Naval Academy.

Midshipmen pursuing a degree in nuclear engineering will learn about nuclear propulsion, applications of radiological technology and systems of nuclear powered ships and weapons.

Upon the Class of 2017’s graduation, the American Board of Engineering Training will accredit the major. 

Graduates of the nuclear engineering program can expect to be well prepared to continue their careers in the Navy’s nuclear power program. Midshipmen will be prepared for the challenges of nuclear power school and in a solid position to pursue a master’s degree through graduate study in most any engineering field, said Nelson.

“Midshipmen will get a good fundamental engineering education from civilian staff and PMPs (permanent military professors),” he said. “The major will not only offer theory but also real-world experience and provide a very strong analytical background and understanding of engineering principles.”

Nuclear engineering has been an integral part of the U.S. Navy since the launch and commissioning of USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the first nuclear powered submarine, in 1954. Each year approximately 15 percent of Naval Academy graduates enter nuclear fields, either in the submarine or surface warfare communities.

The Engineering and Weapons Division faculty encourage middle and high school students to attend one of the many summer seminars hosted at the U.S. Naval Academy to learn more about the new nuclear engineering major. More information about these summer programs can be found at

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