US nuclear industry facing serious shortage of workers

Just as the nuclear industry in the US could be being revived, with promotion from President George W Bush, the industry is facing a shortage of nuclear engineers to keep existing reactors running.

According to Dr Akira Tokuhiro, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering at the University of Missouri-Rolla, there are also insufficient numbers of people wishing to study nuclear engineering at university. “The US is currently about 300 nuclear engineers short of what it needs,” said Tokuhiro. “Last year, only 130 bachelor of science degrees in nuclear engineering were awarded to graduates across the US.” By the time the average nuclear engineering student graduates, they will have received at least three job offers, he said.

However, there does appear to be a turnaround in student interest in nuclear engineering, he said, with around 20% of students being women. A University of Missouri-Rolla summer camp designed to interest high school students in the field, is growing. “Last summer we had seven students in our camp,” said Toluhiro. “But this year there are about 50 students signed up to attend the camp.”

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