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Tapping energy

Nuclear Science is about studying atomic nuclei and exploiting their energy to serve humankind. It is used in food irradiation, medicine electricity production, space and the industry.

education Updated: Sep 22, 2011 11:35 IST

The lowdown
Nuclear Science is about studying atomic nuclei and exploiting their energy to serve humankind. It is used in food irradiation, medicine (think cancer treatment), electricity production, space and the industry. A nuclear scientist is a cross between a physicist and an engineer. While some are involved in the operation and maintenance of a nuclear reactor, others might do research. Job options are in all nuclear power plants and private industries like L&T, BHEL and Tata Energy.

Clock Work
At a nuclear plant, a control engineer does the following in his 7am-3pm shift:
. Regularly test equipment
. Operate the reactor within technical specifications
. Control the sustained chain reaction in the reactor core
Along with the control engineer, other scientists and engineers work in tandem to perform various tasks.

The payoff
Training: Rs15000 a month + Rs5000 (stipend for trainees as well as DGFS fellows during training and a one-time book allowance, respectively).
Rs15600-Rs39100 with a grade pay of Rs5400. The government pays 20 per cent over and above the government scale exclusively to nuclear scientists.

. Scientific temperament
. Interest in experimental work; manual tasks
. Analytical ability
. Tech savvy
. Quantitative skills (good background in maths)
. Stamina

How do i get there?
. Opt for science with physics and maths in class 11 and 12. To get into Delhi University’s MTech programme in nuclear science and technology, you should
have a Bachelor’s degree with physics for at least two years/ four semesters and maths for at least a year/ two semester. Plus, you need to clear the Joint
Admission test for MSc (JAM). More details on http://jam.iitkgp.ac.in.
. Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) holds an all-India entrance test for an orientation course for engineering graduates and science postgraduates
(OCES) as well as a two-year DAE Graduate Fellowship Scheme for engineering graduates and physics post-graduates (DGFS).
. Some finalists join BARC for research at the Raja Ramanna Centre for Advanced Technology and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research. Those wishing
to get into commercial nuclear technology, opt for power plants like NPCIL, which selects candidates through GATE score plus interview and medical
examination, or in case of no GATE score, written (BARC’s common) and other tests.

Institutes & urls
. BARC and NPCIL have training schools for fresh inductees.
Very few institutes offer programmes in this niche area. Those offering full-fledged degrees in this discipline include:
. Delhi University
. MTech in NST,
. IIT Kanpur
MTech in nuclear engineering and technology

Pros and Cons
. It’s exciting to work on a nuclear reactor
. Indirectly, you can help in national development
. Foreign job options
. Risk of overexposure to radioactive material, though it’s reduced if you take precautions
. You might be posted at a plant in a faraway place.