The nuclear engineering program at Virginia Tech, based in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, graduated its first eight students completing the nuclear engineering minor in its May ceremonies.

The discipline, now housed in the College of Engineering, operated out of the physics department from 1956 until 1972 and then out of the mechanical engineering department from 1972 until it was phased out in 1985. An expanding nuclear industry within Virginia prompted the university to start bringing the program back in 2007.

The university approved a graduate certificate in 2011 and the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) approving graduate degrees in 2013. Personnel have been hired to continue the expansion, with six faculty currently committed.

An undergraduate minor was approved by the university in 2019. Those completing the graduation requirements in the first minor cohort also completed a major in either mechanical engineering or chemical engineering.

The program continues to attract students from a variety of disciplines, with seven majors represented among the students currently enrolled. The minor is open to all majors at the university with the appropriate mathematics background. The next open window for undergraduate students to sign up for the nuclear engineering minor started on Aug. 3, 2020.

— Written by Alex Parrish