Nuclear Engineering Minor

This is an archived copy of the 2019-2020 catalog. To access the most recent version of the catalog, please visit

View PDF

Minor administered by Mechanical Engineering

The nuclear engineering undergraduate minor allows engineering students to acquire a formal background in nuclear engineering topics that will not only benefit them, but also fulfill a societal need for future hiring of engineers. Through this program, students can enroll in a formal minor that enables them to acquire a basic and fundamental knowledge of nuclear sciences and engineering, thus enabling them to pursue employment in any one of a number of fields associated with the construction, operation or regulation of nuclear power generation.

Students completing this minor acquire a body of knowledge in the fundamentals of nuclear science and engineering. The required courses selected ensures that all graduates of the nuclear engineering minor obtain a minimum body of knowledge in nuclear science and engineering that would allow them to apply their specialized field of engineering knowledge to nuclear-related applications, such as nuclear plant and site construction, nuclear power plant operations, nuclear safety and radiation protection.

The supporting courses that are listed in this program provide an opportunity for students to build upon the knowledge gained in the required courses by taking either more advanced courses or more specialized courses dealing with specific areas of nuclear engineering.

Undergraduate Study

Students interested in completing the nuclear engineering minor must be enrolled at Iowa State University and have the appropriate technical background. They should complete and submit the “Request for Minor” form for submission to the Nuclear Engineering program director. The selection process is based on approval by the administering department, Mechanical Engineering.

The course requirements for the undergraduate minor in nuclear engineering are:

Required course:
NUC E 401Nuclear Radiation Theory and Engineering3
Four of the following:12
Nuclear Reactor Engineering *
Radiation Protection and Shielding *
Nuclear Reactor Theory *
Nuclear Criticality Safety
Nuclear Energy and Society
Probabilistic Risk Assessment
Radiation Detection, Measurement and Simulation
Independent Study
Total Credits15

*Students have the option of enrolling in these web-based distance courses offered at select universities. It is the responsibility of the student to arrange for enrollment and payment for these courses. Courses must be successfully completed with a “C” or higher in order to be considered for transfer credit. Contact the Nuclear Engineering program director for more information.

The minor must include at least nine credits which are beyond the total used to meet curriculum requirements for the bachelors degree in engineering.

Expand all courses


Courses primarily for undergraduates:

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: PHYS 222, MATH 266 or MATH 267
Atomic and nuclear physics. Radioactivity and reaction rates. Cross sections. Introduction to neutron diffusion theory. Engineering applications of radiation theory.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: NUC E 401, permission of Nuclear Engineering program director
WWW only. Fission and chain reactions. Neutron diffusion and moderation. Reactor equations. Fermi Age theory. Multigroup and multiregional analysis. Contact Nuclear Engineering program director for enrollment information.

(3-0) Cr. 3.

Prereq: NUC E 401, permission of Nuclear Engineering program director
WWW only. Basic principles and concepts of radiation protection and design: dosimetric units and response functions, hazards of radiation dose, radiation sources, basic methods for dose evaluation, and shielding design techniques for photons and neurons.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: NUC E 401, permission of Nuclear Engineering program director
WWW only. An introduction to neutron diffusion theory, neutron moderation, conditions for criticality of nuclear reactors.

Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: NUC E 401
Nomenclature, theory, and practice of nuclear criticality safety. Review of nuclear criticality accidents, analytical methods used in criticality analysis, review of standards and regulations, and developing criticality safety evaluations.

(3-0) Cr. 3. Alt. S., offered even-numbered years.

Prereq: NUC E 401
The relationship between nuclear energy and society is examined from the perspective of significant events in the commercial nuclear power industry. Event analysis includes differences and similarities of technologies along with environmental impact. Political, social, media and regulatory responses for each event are discussed along with the impact on future plant design.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: STAT 305 or equivalent
Methods for analysis of nuclear power systems. Fault tree and event tree analysis methods. Mathematical basics for dealing with reliability data, theory, and analysis. Case studies of accidents in nuclear power systems.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: NUC E 401
Principles of nuclear radiation safety and detection. Radiation energy spectroscopy. Counting statistics and error analysis. Monte Carlo simulation of radiation transport. Detection system performance parameters. Design projects.

Cr. 1-3. Repeatable, maximum of 3 credits.

Prereq: Junior Classification
Investigation of nuclear engineering topics. Election of course and topic must be approved in advance by supervising faculty.