Nuclear technology plays a crucial role in a wide variety of contexts and sectors in Belgium, including power production, waste management, nuclear fuel production, etc. The Belgian Nuclear Higher Education Network (BNEN) combines the expertise in nuclear education and research of six major Belgian universities (KU Leuven, UGent, VUB, UCL, ULG, and ULB) with the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre SCK-CEN.
What is the Master of Nuclear Engineering all about?
Nuclear technology plays a crucial role in a wide variety of contexts and sectors in Belgium, including:
- power production
- nuclear fuel production
- radioelement production
- accelerator design and fabrication
- waste management
- safety management
- nuclear medicine
The Belgium Nuclear Higher Education Network (BNEN) combines the expertise in nuclear education and research of six major Belgian universities (KU Leuven, UGent, VUB, UCL, ULG, and ULB) with the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre.
The Master of Science in Nuclear Engineering program is an internationally oriented, interuniversity program organized by BNEN in close collaboration with nuclear research centers and industry. The aim of the BNEN program is to provide students with all the skills and scientific and technical background necessary to carry out duties at a high level of responsibility in order to ensure the safe and economical operation of nuclear power plants, the regulation, and control of nuclear installations or to design new nuclear systems.
The current program can be divided into three core blocks:
- Introductory courses allowing refreshing or first contact with the basic notions of nuclear physics, materials sciences and the principles of energy conversion through the use of nuclear phenomena, supplemented by a core block of nuclear engineering.
- A block of elective courses that allow students to deepen certain topics of their choice.
- A Master’s thesis.
The collaboration with SCK*CEN makes it possible to include actual use of facilities in the curriculum, supporting the development of skills and competences in a research environment. All subjects are taught by academics appointed by the partner universities, whereas the practical exercises and laboratory sessions are supervised by the experts of SCK*CEN. The Master’s thesis offers an opportunity for an internship in industry or in a research laboratory.
All teaching activities take place on the premises of SCK*CEN. Courses are organized in English and in a modular way; teaching in blocks of one to three weeks for each module allows optimal time management for students and lecturers, facilitates registration for individual modules, and allows easy exchange with international students.
One particular aspect of the BNEN degree is that it automatically leads to the recognition as Class I Expert by the Federal Agency of Nuclear Control. In order to receive this accreditation, the program must at least offer 24 credits in Nuclear Safety and 12 credits in Radioprotection.
A major strength of the BNEN program, as to its sustainability, is that it allows providing high-quality academic education by experts from (or appointed by) the main Belgian universities at low individual cost and thus very efficiently harmonized/rationalized. In addition, the participation of the nuclear research center SCK*CEN in the consortium provides superb realistic experimental facilities in a difficult (radioactive) environment.
A further fundamental strength of the program can be found in the fact that a well-balanced curriculum is offered where the contents and format have been discussed at length with representatives of the major nuclear companies that are the first potential employers of the graduates. There is a nearly complete overlap between objectives and realized competencies in courses, electives, exercises, and Master’s thesis. This can be ascribed to the following contributing factors:
- There is a good balance between theory and practical skills. This is implemented through an appropriate diversity of didactic formats, including exercises and/or labs for nearly all courses.
- There is appropriate care for multidisciplinary scientific competencies and for transferable skills through the importance given to the Master’s thesis.
- The education in programs is backed by world-class research at the universities, the research center and the involvement of teachers working in international research institutes.
- The involvement of several professors who have their principal employment in nuclear companies.
- Both the professors and the young researchers are very active in the major international research programs and associations related to applications of nuclear phenomena.
Is this the right program for me?
- Students entering the program are expected to have a solid background in engineering, mathematics, and physics.
- They should possess a problem-solving attitude and a genuine spirit for safety.
- Incoming students must hold an academic degree in engineering (Master of Science in Engineering or Agricultural Engineering, based on a program of at least 300 ECTS. Holders of a 4-year Master's degree in industrial engineering and sciences (physics, chemistry, etc.) are required to take an entrance exam amounting to the material covered in 'adjustment courses' equivalent to a maximum load of 30 ECTS.
- Former Industrial Engineering majors need to compensate for a lack of mathematics and science-related background; science majors need to compensate for typical engineering subjects.
Upon completion of the Master's program in Nuclear Engineering, students will have acquired:
- a thorough understanding of nuclear physical processes;
- comprehensive knowledge of the procedures and techniques necessary to control nuclear processes;
- in-depth knowledge of nuclear safety, reliability procedures, and nuclear waste treatment;
- the competence to design and maintain structures to control nuclear processes;
- communicative skills in the field of nuclear technology and the capability to participate in research concerning the above-mentioned topics.
Graduates possess the necessary skills and knowledge to carry out duties at a high level of responsibility in:
- nuclear power plants
- nuclear research reactors
- nuclear regulatory organizations
- nuclear engineering firms
- nuclear fuel fabrication
- nuclear waste treatment
- radio-isotope production
In addition, the degree itself is an important part of the legal qualifications necessary to become a safety professional in a major nuclear installation.
Start your career, during your studies
During your bachelor's and master's program you can already shape your own profile by choosing a certain specialization, studying abroad (Erasmus), doing a work placement, or starting your own business.
The Student Career Center is happy to put you on the right track towards your first work experience. The center also coaches you in the search for an interesting job and helps you with job interviews. For students wanting to start their own business KU Leuven also has Lcie, the KU Leuven community that encourages students with innovative and entrepreneurial ideas.
Don’t know where to start? The Student Career Center's databases contain offers for jobs, volunteer work, innovation projects, and student jobs. You can also visit one of the events organized by the Career Center.
About the School
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