From the Chair

Nuclear engineering is undergoing a remarkable renaissance in the U.S. and globally, and today's nuclear engineers also contribute to a myriad of nuclear applications that improve human health and welfare.  Indeed many of the major U.S. programs, U.C. Berkeley being no exception, have enjoyed a doubling of their enrollment over the past decade, and application pressure from the very best trained students continues unabated.

At U.C. Berkeley, nuclear engineers are leading in research that will enable long-term sustainable and economic production of nuclear energy from fission and fusion; provide for responsible recycling and disposal of nuclear wastes; develop advanced, radiation tolerant materials for high-temperature applications; assure security by detecting illicit transfers of nuclear materials; and advance applications of nuclear methods for medical imaging and therapy.

Today nuclear energy provides over 70% of all non-fossil electricity generation in the United States, and U.S. utilities are moving forward with the construction of new, Generation III+ advanced light water reactors to further expand this contribution. Work is underway to develop advanced fuel cycle and Generation IV reactor technologies that can consume nuclear wastes while providing economic and secure supplies of electricity, low-carbon transportation fuels, and desalinated water. New approaches for geologic disposal of residual nuclear wastes are being considered, and Berkeley is active in studying how different options can be coupled to advanced, sustainable fuel cycles.

Our distinguished faculty continues to set the agenda for this renaissance.  My predecessor as Chair, Prof. Per Peterson, served on President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission for America’s Nuclear Future.  Prof. Joonhong Ahn is one of the leading advisors to Japan and Korea on nuclear issues.  Prof. Jasmina Vujic is Principal Investigator for the Nuclear Science and Security Consortium, a $27M DOE center-of-excellence comprising seven universities and four national laboratories to prepare the nation’s future workforce in non-proliferation.  In 2012, our Department was awarded the American Nuclear Society’s President’s Citation for their broad outreach and education efforts in the aftermath of the Japanese tsunami and disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex. 

Students studying in nuclear engineering become true multi-disciplinary specialists, and many undergraduates choose to pursue joint major degrees with mechanical, materials science, chemical, or electrical engineering. Those who graduate today enter an expanding job market in industry, national laboratories, government and academia, where one can work on problems that will have large impact on our future environment, security, health and safety.  Needless to say, our students continue to innovate and win major recognitions for their scholarship and research every year.

Welcome to our UCB-NE web site, which contains a diverse range of information about the people and activities in our department.

Karl A. van Bibber, Professor and Chair