Undergraduate Program in Nuclear Engineering

The Field

Nuclear engineering is an exciting, rapidly-evolving field which requires engineers with an understanding of physical processes of nuclear energy and an ability to apply concepts in new and creative ways. Nuclear engineers are primarily concerned with the control, monitoring, and use of energy released in nuclear processes. 

Some nuclear engineers work on the design and safety aspects of environmentally-sound, passively safe nuclear fission reactors. Others are looking to future energy solutions through development and implementation of nuclear fusion systems. Others are helping in the exploration and utilization of outer space by developing long term, reliable nuclear energy sources. With the renewed concern in environmental science, nuclear engineers are working on safe disposal concepts for radioactive waste and on methods for reduction of radiation releases from industrial facilities. They also work in developing a wide variety of applications for radioisotopes such as the treatment and diagnosis of diseases, food preservation, manufacturing development, processing and quality control, and biological and mechanical process tracers. For each of these fields there are numerous opportunities for nuclear engineers in basic research, applications, operations, and training.

The Major

The goal of nuclear engineering education is to give the student an excellent understanding of nuclear processes and fundamentals and to provide the physical and engineering principles which lead to applications of the basic processes. The course of study in nuclear engineering gives the student broad training in the fundamentals of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering, followed by professional specialty courses in radiation detection and protection, nuclear reactor theory and safety, thermal hydraulics, and nuclear systems design. Students also select three technical electives which allow them to explore in-depth areas of interest in nuclear engineering. The graduate nuclear engineer will find a wide variety of career opportunities, or will be well prepared to pursue advanced graduate studies.

Program Educational Objectives

Graduates of the undergraduate program in Nuclear Engineering will be successfully progressing in their careers by:

  1. demonstrating technical competence in their nuclear engineering-related professional or post-baccalaureate educational endeavors,
  2. solving problems efficiently in diverse areas of nuclear engineering and other related professions, and
  3. communicating effectively in both written and oral media.

Program Student Outcomes

The program outcomes, listed below, summarize the key skills and capabilities that we expect of our graduates at or before the time of graduation. By the time our graduates complete our program they will have successfully demonstrated:

      (a) an ability to apply knowledge of mathematics, science, nuclear physics, and engineering.
      (b) an ability to design, conduct, and analyze experiments involving nuclear* and non-nuclear processes, interpret data, and report the results.
      (c) an ability to design a nuclear system, reactor, or process to meet desired needs within realistic constraints such as economic, environmental, social, political, ethical, health and safety, manufacturability, and sustainability.
      (d) an ability to function on multidisciplinary teams.
      (e) an ability to identify, formulate, and solve nuclear* and related engineering problems.
      (f) an understanding of professional and ethical responsibilities of nuclear engineers.
      (g) an ability to communicate effectively.
      (h) the broad education necessary to understand the impact of engineering solutions in a global, economic, environmental, and societal context.
      (i) a recognition of the need for, and an ability to engage in life-long learning.
      (j) a knowledge of contemporary issues involving nuclear power and engineering activities.
      (k) an ability to use the techniques, skills, and modern engineering tools (such as neutronics codes) necessary for nuclear or radiological engineering practice.

* Nuclear engineering problems include nuclear processes (fission, fusion, decay, etc.), radiation interaction with matter, radiation transport, thermal hydraulics, and radiation detection and measurement.

Undergraduate Enrollment and Graduation Data

Enrollment FA 03 FA 04 FA 05 FA 06 FA 07 FA 08 FA 09 FA 10 FA 11 FA 12 FA 13 FA 14 FA 15 FA 16 FA 17
  32 31 24 21 31 29 36 35 42 37 36 47 41 90 94
BSNE FA 03 FA 04 FA 05 FA 06 FA 07 FA 08 FA 09 FA 10 FA 11 FA 12 FA 13 FA 14 FA 15 FA 16
  8 9 12 8 12 7 10 7 15 11 7 16 16 13

Student Opportunities Resources

  • Students are encouraged to join the student chapter of the American Nuclear Society (ANS). Departmental field trips, get-togethers, and an active seminar program give students ample opportunities to interact with faculty members and to meet with a variety of nuclear engineering professionals from outside the university.

  • Computer Facilities
    Along with the other computing facilities available on campus, the department maintains a computer pod with state-of-the-art PCs, loaded with software and tools relevant to Nuclear Engineering students. 

    Numerical analysis is an important part of each year’s instruction in engineering, and by the senior year, students make extensive use of the sophisticated neutron transport and thermohydraulics production codes. In addition to these technical software packages, students also gain experience with other computer software including word processing, mathematical subroutines and spreadsheets.
  • Advising
    Engineering students benefit from comprehensive advising. Following admission to the department, students are assigned a faculty mentor within his or her area of interest. Students are required to meet with the faculty advisor and department advising coordinator before registering each semester. Students in pre-major status or who have not been admitted to the department are advised in Engineering Student Services.


  • Cooperative Education
    Opportunities for the cooperative education program or summer industrial internship program may be available through UNM’s Career Services Cooperative Education Program.
  • Department Honors Program
    Eligible freshmen and upperclassmen in the Department of Nuclear Engineering are urged to enroll in the Honors Program. Nuclear Engineering students may graduate with General Honors (honors in general studies), with Departmental Honors, or both. Information is available from departmental advisors and the University Honors Center.
  • Student Organizations
    Students are encouraged to participate the various student organizations represented at the University.

Need More Information?

For more information, contact us at ne@unm.edu.