August 19, 2008
"So many of the companies that we're dealing with now in the state of Virginia are panicking because they need so much talent, not only additional talent for the new work they got but also the retiring workforce," said Jim Aylor, Dean of UVa's Engineering School.
That's after decades of low interest in nuclear engineering, due in part to negative public perception of nuclear energy, a fact that caused many schools across the country to abandon such programs.
"What's happened over the years is a lot of nuclear engineering programs have basically been done away with," said Aylor.
But now there is worldwide interest in nuclear energy, and with greater acceptance by the public, and a hot issue with politicians, the field is starting to expand.
"Obviously the change now is that it's a very clean energy so with the global warming issues, the interest in nuclear energy is really picked up a lot," said Aylor.
Causing schools across the country, including the University of Virginia, to try and fill the gap, by re-establishing nuclear programs. UVa is planning on offering a nuclear engineering minor and though students have yet to sign up, Aylor doesn't think getting students to enroll will be a problem.
"Students want good jobs, I think they'll probably be good paying jobs and so i think that is really what will make it work," said Aylor.
According to the American Nuclear Society, nuclear engineers command the third highest income among the engineering professions.