Graduate Catalog
2019-2020
 
Policies, Procedures, Academic Programs
Nuclear Engineering
College of Engineering
Goodwin Hall at the corner of Prices Fork Road and Stanger Street is the new flagship building for the College of Engineering. It houses 40 instructional and research labs, eight classrooms, an auditorium, and 150 offices for several engineering departments. More than classrooms, offices, and laboratories for Virginia Tech, the building is a ground-breaking experiment to measure even the smallest vibrations made inside the building. Accelerometers can measure vibration from wind loads, structural settling, or even foot traffic.
1) Blacksburg Campus 445 Goodwin Hall (MC 0238) 635 Prices Fork Road 2) National Capital Region (NCR) campus Northern Virginia Center (NVC) 7054 Haycock Road Falls Church Virginia 22043
Goodwin Hall
Degree(s) Offered:
• MS
MS Degree in Nuclear Engineering
Minimum GPA: 3.2
Offered In:
Blacksburg
National Capital Region
• MEng
MEng Degree in Nuclear Engineering
Minimum GPA: 3.2
Offered In:
Blacksburg
National Capital Region
• PhD
PhD Degree in Nuclear Engineering
Minimum GPA: 3.2
Offered In:
Blacksburg
National Capital Region
• MEng
MEng Degree in Nuclear Engineering
Minimum GPA: 3.2
Offered In:
Blacksburg
National Capital Region
Email Contact(s):
Phone Number(s):
540/231-6661
703/538-3795
540/231-7467
Application Deadlines:
Fall: Jan 05
Spring: Sep 01
Summer I: May 18
Summer II: May 18
Directions
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Goodwin Hall

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Department Head : Azim Eskandarian
Graduate Program Director(s) : Corina Sandu (Graduate Program Director), Alireza Haghighat (Nuclear Engineering Director & NES Thrust Area Coordinator)
Professors: Alireza Haghighat (National Capital Region); Jinsuo Zhang
Associate Professors: Celine Hin
Assistant Professors: Yang Liu; Juliana Pacheco Duarte
Affiliated Faculty: Xianming Bai; Diana Farkas; Robert Hendricks; Roop Mahajan (National Capital Region); Sonja Schmid (National Capital Region); Danesh Tafti; James Turso (Penn State)
Associate Professor of Practice: Mark Pierson

Nuclear Engineering Program

In response to the growing demand from nuclear industry in Virginia, Virginia Tech restarted its nuclear engineering program (NEP) within the Mechanical Engineering Department and offers graduate degrees (Ph.D, MS & MEng) in Nuclear Engineering. NEP recently established an accelerated MEng in Nuclear Engineering, offered to the graduates of the US Naval Academy.  The NEP also offers a graduate Certificate in Nuclear Engineering.

The NEP faculty are engaged in different applications of nuclear science and engineering including power, security, medicine, and policy. To accomplish its research and educational mission, NEP has established collaborations with other VT programs such as Mechanical Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Physics, School of Public and International Affairs, and Science, Technology and Society. Several faculty from these programs are working with the NEP faculty on different educational and research activities.

For further information about NEP, visit the program website.
Offered In (Blacksburg, National Capital Region)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.2
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 620.0
    • iBT
      • 105.0
  • TOEFL Computer Based
    • Computer Based
      • CBT : 260.0
  • GRE
    • General
      • Verbal : 150.0
      • Quantitative : 165.0
      • Analytical : 4.5
Please contact negrad@vt.edu for specific location information. Acceptance into the VT Nuclear Engineering graduate program is based on the overall application package.  Admission does not guarantee financial assistance.  In general, the minimum target requirements are to the left. The application materials required can be accessed from the application instructions web page.

Master of Science (MS) Degree Requirements

Earning an MS degree requires completing a 30 credit hour program subject to the following requirements.  Except as indicated, courses must be taken for a grade, not Pass/Fail.  MS students must submit a Plan of Study before completing the first semester registered as a MS student.  No grade below B- is allowed for any core course.

1. Master of Science Courses: A minimum of 21 graded credit-hours of courses must be taken including the following:

a. Core Courses (15 graded credit-hours) which include four required courses and one mathematics/statistics course:

12 credit-hours of required courses:
(1) NSEG 5124 Nuclear Reactor Analysis
(2) NSEG 5204 Nuclear Fuel Cycle
(3)
NSEG 5604 Radiation Detection and Shielding 
(4) either NSEG 5424 Reactor Thermal Hydraulics
      or MSE 5384G Advanced Nuclear Materials

A minimum of 3 graded credit-hours of a mathematics or statistics course from an approved list of courses.

b. Elective Courses: Six credit-hours of
any science, engineering or mathematics 5000-level, or higher, courses as approved by the Advisory Committee are required. However, if only six credit-hours of NSEG 5994 are applied toward the degree instead of nine credit-hours (see Research Requirements below), the student must take an additional 3 credits of any science, engineering or mathematics 5000-level, or higher course, as approved by their Advisor, to satisfy the requirement for a total of 30 credit hours for the M.S. degree.

The graded course work may include 5984/6984 Special Study. However, a student cannot exceed a maximum of 6 credit hours of 5974, 5984, and 6984.

2. Master of Science Research Requirement:  A minimum of 6 credit-hours of NSEG 5994 Research and Thesis, not to exceed 9 credit-hours, must be completed. 

Additional Requirements:  All students must satisfactorily pass an oral final examination, write and successfully defend a thesis. 

Seminar Program: All students must participate in the nuclear engineering program seminar series.

Ethics:  All graduate students must meet the Graduate School's Ethics requirement by completing GRAD 5014 Academic Integrity & Plagiarism within the first two semesters.

Course work From Another Institution (MS):
  Per the Graduate School, not more than 50% of required graded course work from another institution may be transferred. All transferred course credits must have the grade of "B" or higher and must have been earned while enrolled as a graduate student.  Transfer work is evaluated/approved when the Plan of Study is submitted.  All transfer credits must be accompanied by transcripts which verify grades. Course descriptions are also required. Transfer courses on the Plan of Study must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee.

It is anticipated that students complete the MS program in two years following undergraduate studies in a nuclear related field, or with a minor in a nuclear related field. If a student already has a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering, they are expected to complete the MS program in less time, perhaps in as few as three semesters.

No courses below the 5000 level will be accepted for graduate credit.

Offered In (Blacksburg, National Capital Region)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.2
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 620.0
    • iBT
      • 105.0
  • GRE
    • General
      • Verbal : 150.0
      • Quantitative : 165.0
      • Analytical : 4.5
  • TOEFL Computer Based Test
    • CBT Score
      • CBT Score : 260.0
Please contact negrad@vt.edu for specific location information. Acceptance into the VT Nuclear Engineering graduate program is based on the overall application package.  Admission does not guarantee financial assistance.  In general, the minimum target requirements are to the left. The application materials required can be accessed from the application instructions web page.

Master of Engineering (MEng) Degree Requirements

Earning a MEng degree requires completing a 30 credit hour program subject to the following requirements.  Except as indicated, courses must be taken for a grade, not Pass/Fail.  MEng students must submit a Plan of Study before completing the first semester registered as a MEng student.  No grade below B- is allowed for any core course.

1. Master of Engineering Courses: A minimum of 24 graded credit-hours of courses must be taken including the following:

a. Core Courses (15 graded credit-hours) which include four required courses and one mathematics/statistics course:

12 credit-hours of required courses:
(1) NSEG 5124 Nuclear Reactor Analysis
(2) NSEG 5204 Nuclear Fuel Cycle
(3)
NSEG 5604 Radiation Detection and Shielding 
(4) either NSEG 5424 Reactor Thermal Hydraulics
      or MSE 5384G Advanced Nuclear Materials

A minimum of 3 graded credit-hours of a mathematics or statistics course from an approved list of courses.

b. Additional NSEG Course: An additional 3 credit-hours of a graded NSEG 5000-level, or higher, course is required.

c. Elective Courses:
Six credit-hours of
any science, engineering or mathematics 5000-level, or higher, course as approved by the Advisory Committee are required. However, if only three credit-hours of NSEG 5904 are applied toward the degree instead of six credit-hours (see Project Requirements below), the student must take an additional 3 credits of any science, engineering or mathematics 5000-level, or higher course, as approved by the Advisory Committee, to satisfy the requirement for a total of 30 credit hours for the MEng degree.

The graded course work may include 5984/6984 Special Study. However, a student cannot exceed a maximum of 6 credit hours of 5974, 5984, and 6984.

2. Master of Engineering Project Requirement:  A minimum of 3 credit-hours of NSEG 5904 Project and Report, not to exceed 6 credit hours, must be completed. 

Additional Requirements:  All students must satisfactorily pass an oral final examination, write and successfully defend a Project & Report.

Seminar Program: All students must participate in the nuclear engineering program seminar series.

Ethics:  All graduate students must meet the Graduate School's Ethics requirement by completing GRAD 5014 Academic Integrity & Plagiarism within the first two semesters.

Course work From Another Institution: 
Per the Graduate School, not more than 50% of required graded course work from another institution may be transferred. All transferred course credits must have the grade of "B" or higher and must have been earned while enrolled as a graduate student.  Transfer work is evaluated/approved when the Plan of Study is submitted.  All transfer credits must be accompanied by transcripts which verify grades. Course descriptions are also required. Transfer courses on the Plan of Study must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee.

It is anticipated that students complete the MEng program in two years following undergraduate studies in a nuclear related field, or with a minor in a nuclear related field. If a student already has a B.S. in Nuclear Engineering, they are expected to complete the MEng program in less time, perhaps in as few as three semesters.

No courses below the 5000 level will be accepted for graduate credit.

Offered In (Blacksburg, National Capital Region)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.2
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
  • TOEFL
    • Paper
      • 620.0
    • iBT
      • 105.0
  • GRE
    • General
      • Verbal : 150.0
      • Quantitative : 165.0
      • Analytical : 4.5
  • Computer Based TOEFL
    • CBT Score
      • CBT Score : 260.0

Please contact negrad@vt.edu for specific location information. Acceptance into the VT Nuclear Engineering graduate program is based on the overall application package.  Admission does not guarantee financial assistance.  In general, the minimum target requirements are to the left. The application materials required can be accessed from the application instructions web page.

A Ph.D student has a deeper knowledge of the nuclear engineering subject matter than a Master’s student and, is expected to be carry out a comprehensive research project. Earning a Ph.D. requires the completion of a 90 credit hour program (including the courses taken for a Master’s degree) subject to the following requirements. Except as indicated, courses must be taken for a grade, not Pass/ Fail. No grade below B- is allowed for any core course.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) Degree Requirements

The 90 credit hours are made up of (1) 30 graded credit hours of coursework consisting of six core courses and four additional courses in the categories of NSEG 6000 level courses, Breadth or Elective courses, (2) 30 credit hours of research, and (3) 30 credit hours of enhancement courses which may consist of either research credits or graduate level courses taken from any unit of the University.

1. Doctor of Philosophy Courses: A minimum of 30 graded credit hours of courses must be taken including the following:

a. Core Courses (18 graded credit hours) which include four required courses and two mathematics/statistics courses:

12 credit hours of required courses:
(1) NSEG 5124 Nuclear Reactor Analysis
(2) NSEG 5204 Nuclear Fuel Cycle
(3) NSEG 5604 Radiation Detection and Shielding 
(4) either NSEG 5424 Reactor Thermal Hydraulics
      or MSE 5384G Advanced Nuclear Materials

A minimum of 6 graded credit hours of a mathematics or statistics courses from an approved list of courses.

b. 6000- evel NSEG Courses: Any two NSEG 6000 level courses as approved by the Advisory Committee.

c. Breadth Requirement: An additional 3 credit hour NSEG 5000 level, or higher, graded course.  This course should provide some breadth by being in an area outside the student's specialization as determined by the student's Advisory Committee.

d. Elective Course: Three credit hours of any science, engineering or mathematics 5000 level, or higher, course as approved by the Advisory Committee is required.

The graded course work may include 5984/6984 Special Study. However, a student cannot exceed a maximum of 12 credit hours of 5974, 5984, and 6984.

2. Doctor of Philosophy Research Requirement:  A minimum of 30 credit hours of NSEG 7994 Research & Dissertation must be completed successfully.


3. Doctor of Philosophy Enhancement Requirement: A minimum of 30 additional credit hours consisting of a combination of either graduate coursework (5000 level or higher) from any unit of the University and/or research and dissertation credits (NSEG 7994), as approved by the student’s Advisory Committee. These credits are tailored for the specific research topic and background of the student.  Additional in-depth courses related to the student’s research area, if applicable, would be included under this requirement.  Moreover, students who plan to enter academia after completion of their Ph.D are encouraged to take electives such as GRAD 5104 Preparing the Future Professoriate and ENGE 5014 Foundations of Engineering Education. Those planning to enter industry are encouraged to take electives such as GRAD 5314 Future Industrial Professional in Science and Engineering. Obtaining a Graduate Certificate in the Future Professoriate or other areas are also encouraged.  These electives will also satisfy part of the 30 credit hours enhancement requirement.

Additional Requirements: All students must satisfactorily pass the qualifying, preliminary and oral final examinations, write and successfully defend a dissertation, and complete a residency experience through full-time enrollment on the Virginia Tech Blacksburg campus or National Capital Region campus for two consecutive semesters. 

Seminar Program: All students must participate in the nuclear engineering program seminar series.

Ethics:  All graduate students must meet the Graduate School's Ethics requirement by completing GRAD 5014 Academic Integrity & Plagiarism within the first two semesters.

Course work From Another Institution
:  Per the Graduate School, not more than 50% of required graded course work from another institution may be transferred. All transferred course credits must have the grade of "B" or higher and must have been earned while enrolled as a graduate student.  Transfer work is evaluated/approved when the Plan of Study is submitted.  All transfer credits must be accompanied by transcripts which verify grades. Course descriptions are also required. Transfer courses on the Plan of Study must be approved by the student’s Advisory Committee.

No courses below the 5000 level will be accepted for graduate credit toward the Doctor of Philosophy in Nuclear Engineering.

Offered In (Blacksburg, National Capital Region)

Degree Requirements

Minimum GPA: 3.2
Institution code: 5859
Testing Requirements:
An accelerated graduate program for students from the US Naval Academy (USNA) who receive a BS degree in Nuclear Engineering, or Naval Officers may enroll in the Masters of Engineering (MEng) degree in the Nuclear Engineering Program at Virginia Tech 

The requirements for this program are listed below:

  1. ·       Undergraduate students from USNA must be accepted into the program prior to the spring semester of the academic year. 
  2. ·       Students qualifying for the program must be in the last 12 months of their undergraduate degree and are expected to complete their degree by the end of the spring semester of the academic year. Once completion of the undergraduate degree has been verified, students accepted into this accelerated program will be classified as regular graduate students.
  3. ·       Students will take 10 credits of graded coursework during the spring semester that may be used towards meeting the MEng degree requirement.
  4. ·       Students will not double count any courses for the undergraduate USNA and graduate VT degrees.
  5. ·       Students admitted in the program must have a GPA of 3.0 or better.
  6. ·       Students must maintain a GPA of 3.0 or better during their first semester (spring semester of the academic year) to be accepted as regular graduate students upon their graduation from USNA.
  7. ·       Courses must not be taken pass/fail if a graded option is available. 

Nuclear Engineering Program Facilities

The reintroduction of the Nuclear Engineering degree program has led to facilities available across the Commonwealth of Virginia, including Falls Church and Blacksburg.  Interdisciplinary research project crosses several departmental boundaries to provide richer opportunities for graduate students.

For further information on nuclear facilities, visit the facilities' webpage

Access to the US Naval Academy nuclear facilities

 Under a partnership between the US Naval Academy (USNA) and Virginia Tech, with support form the USNA faculty and staff, the VT nuclear engineering faculty and students can conduct experiments in support of their research activities at the USNA, Annapolis, MD.

Goodwin Hall

The Goodwin Hall houses the Nuclear Engineering offices.

Multi-physics for Advanced Reactor Simulation (MARS) Center

Director: Prof. Alireza Haghighat, Nuclear Engineering Program

Objectives:  Development of novel methodologies and computer codes for design and analysis of advanced (safer, sustainable, and more efficient) nuclear reactors, such as the Molten Salt Reactor (MSR) designs. The Center has attracted national and international collaborations on preparation of proposals, new funding, publications and invited talks. It is envisioned that MARS will enable Virginia Tech to become an internationally recognized hub for development of multiphysics modeling and simulation for Advanced Nuclear Reactors. 

VT Participating Programs: Nuclear Engineering (Celine Hin, Yang Liu, Jinsuo Zhang), Material Science and Engineering (Celine Hin), Mechanical Engineering, and Physics (Patrick Huber and Bruce Vogelaar).

National and International partners:

·     U.S. Universities:  Georgia Tech (Bojan Petrovic, Farzad Rahnema, and Dingkang Zhang); North Carolina State University (Maria Avramova, Kostadin Ivanov).

·    U.S. Industry: Southern Company Services (Nick Smith); with letters of support from TerraPower, Trasnsatomic Power, Elysium Industries, Flibe Energy.

·    U.S. National Laboratories: Oak Ridge National Laboratories (Kevin Robb, Ben Betzler)

·  IInternational Organizations: Paul Scherrer Institut, Switzerland (Jiří Křepel, Andreas Pautz, Konstantin Mikityuk); Politecnico di Torino, Italy (Piero Ravetto, Sandra Dulla, Co-PIs)

Multiphase Flow and Thermal-hydraulics Laboratory (MFTL)

Director: Prof. Yang Liu

The laboratory performs experimental and computational studies on various multiphase flow and reactor thermal-hydraulics topics. In the first area, we study the full spectrum of two-phase flow regimes that are of practical interest, ranging from bubble nucleation to film and droplet dynamics. Research activities include advanced instrumentation development, experimental studies, and model development for both 1-D system codes and 3-D CFD codes. In the area of reactor thermal-hydraulics, the focus is on reactor safety related issues. Specific topics include air entrainment in the emergency core cooling system, flow structure development in rod bundles, flow induced vibration on piping elements, passive safety systems, and spent fuel pool safety.

MFTL has several test loops for two-phase flow experiment and instrumentation development. These test loops are equipped with high-precision instruments including magnetic flow meters, air mass flow meters, and differential pressure transducers. An existing high-speed imaging system consists of multiple (up to five) high-speed cameras, with an attainable frame rate up to 500,000 fps and resolution up to 6016x1024 pixels. A fast X-ray line-detector system can provide X-ray imaging at spatial resolution of 100 micrometer and a frame rate exceeding 1000 Hz. MFTL also has the capability to develop in-house instrumentation systems, such as multi-sensor conductivity probes, impedance void meters, and film thickness sensors. The dedicated computing resources include a 64-core AMD Opteron workstation and several multi-core Intel Xeon based workstations. The lab has access to Virginia Tech's high-performance computing systems, which houses more than five high performance clusters and necessary software packages including ANSYS CFX, ANSYS FLUENT and OpenFOAM, to perform single- and multi-phase CFD simulations.

Nuclear Materials and Fuel Cycle Center

Director:  Prof. Jinsuo Zhang,

The Nuclear Materials and Fuel Cycle Center (NMFC) focuses on two research topics: material degradation in a nuclear reactor and electrochemical separation for nuclear applications. Degradation of structural materials including fuel cladding has been recognized as one of the key factors that affect the performance of a nuclear reactor, especially for Gen.IV advanced reactors. The material degradation can be due to the corrosive property of a nuclear coolant such as liquid metal, molten salt and high temperature water or the chemical reactions between different materials such as fuel cladding chemical interactions (FCCI). Electrochemical separation has been found to be an effective method to separate nuclear materials from spent nuclear fuels. The method is also one of the candidate methods for molten salt coolant purification. Specifically, the center focuses on studies of advanced used nuclear fuel reprocessing, material compatibility and materials corrosion in advanced and current nuclear reactors. Ongoing research activities are: 1) Nuclear Materials compatibility (materials corrosion/degradation), 2) Nuclear Fuel Cycle Technology; 3) Electrochemical Separation; 4) Nuclear Safeguards and nonproliferation; and 5) Advanced Coolant Materials (molten salt, liquid metal).

The Center benefits from two recently established facilities:

  1. A Molten Salt Chemistry Loop for determination of chemical properties of molten salt fuel under high temperature..
  2. Two specialized high-temperature water loops for investigation of materials performance in high temperature environments
Resource: Nuclear facilties (https://nuclear.ncr.vt.edu/about/facilities)

Nuclear Science and Engineering Laboratory - Northern Virginia

Director: Prof. Alireza Haghighat

The Nuclear Science and Engineering Laboratory (NSEL) is a unique research laboratory strategically located within a regional triangle of the Virginia Tech Research Center (VTRC) at Arlington, the Virginia Tech Campus in Blacksburg, and the Center for Advanced Engineering and Research (CAER), an industry-based research hub in New London, Virginia. Under the auspices of the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science (ICTAS), NSEL facilitates collaboration among its members and government agencies, industrial organizations, and educational institutions. It draws the expertise of faculty members from different disciplines and promotes nuclear education by offering workshops, courses, and seminars. 

NSEL enables the VT Nuclear Engineering Program to fill a void in nuclear education and research in the National Capital Region. It is expected that NSEL activities will lead to establishment of new centers, vigorous research activities, engagement in nuclear policy development, and innovations of new tools and devices and computational tools for application in nuclear power, nuclear security and safeguards, and radiation diagnosis and therapy. NSEL will contribute to enhancing nuclear education in the NCR, and training of the next generation nuclear scientists and engineers. 

Prof. Haghighat has taken advantage of the NCR location, and established two educational programs:

and, several research programs including:

Radiation Measurement, Simulation and Visualization Laboratory (RMSVL)

Director: Assoc. Prof. of Practice Mark Pierson

The laboratory supports research activities in radiation detection and materials, radiation dosimetry, light-weight radiation shielding materials, radiation detection arrays, medical physics, nuclear safeguards, design of passive and active interrogation systems, benchmarking of particle transport codes and radiation transport visualization. In addition, it provides modeling, simulation and visualization of the results. Finally, it provides radiation literacy through experiments conducted by students in the various nuclear engineering courses.

Equipment included in the lab:

  • Reverse electrode Germanium detector, 60% efficiency with hybrid cryostat
  • Digital spectrum analyzer
  • NaI and LaBr scintillation detectors
  • Various radiation detection instruments and probes
  • Lead-shielded counting systems
  • 32 processor computational cluster with large panel displays for visualization

Virginia Tech's Advanced Research Computing

Virginia Tech's Advanced Research Computing: Advanced Research Computing (ARC) at Virginia Tech is an innovative and interdisciplinary environment advancing computational science, engineering and technology. Its mission is to:
-Provide computing and visualization resources, support, and leadership to advance computational research at Virginia Tech.
-Provide partnerships and support for joint faculty appointments in academic departments, building areas of excellence in computational science and engineering across disciplines, and providing opportunities for new innovation in scientific computing.
-Offer educational programs and training on scientific computing, encouraging the development of knowledge and skills in computational tools and techniques for undergraduate, graduate and research faculty and staff.
-Offer programs to stimulate and expand interdisciplinary and computational driven research activity at VT, including visiting researcher, travel, distinguished postdoctoral fellow and graduate student programs that provide new sources of support for collaboration, research, and development.
-Affiliate with business, industry, and government to help drive economic development growth in Virginia by building connections between research and applications for emerging tools and techniques in computational science and engineering.
-Collaborate with other computational science and engineering driven research centers in advancing knowledge and leading the evolution of scientific computing tools, techniques, and facilities that accelerate scientific discovery.
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