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Question about Reed Nuclear Reactor

VSGPeanut101VSGPeanut101 Registered User Posts: 886 Member
My daughter is interested in particle physics and is really attracted to Reed for several reasons. The opportunity to do research and prepare for graduate programs is high on her list as she ranks her college options. When we visited Reed, our (excellent) tour guide was not a science person and didn't know that much about the nuclear reactor. What I found out while we were separated made it seem like it might not be "all that" and perhaps should not be a huge factor in the decision process. I've been trying to advocate against an ED application to Reed to allow her to keep options open at other schools.

So any Reedies or others who know more....What kind of student actually commits to the intensive training program to get certified to run the reactor? Do a high percentage of physics majors do the training and use the nuclear reactor for their thesis project? Is it hard to be one of few (10?) students chosen each year? Our tour guide made it sound like most students can't take full course load and do that training.

Thanks for any answers to the specific questions or any tangential opinions that you think may be helpful!

Replies to: Question about Reed Nuclear Reactor

  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Registered User Posts: 35,861 Senior Member
    My daughter wasn't a physics major, and of her friends that I knew, none majored in physics.
    However, one of her friends that was a psych major did run the reactor.
    I expect she thought it would be fun & interesting.
    It probably was.
    She was a pretty dedicated student and after graduation earned her Phd in an area that had nothing to do with physics.
    So you do have to work hard, but you dont have to major in it.
  • raquelleraquelle Registered User Posts: 12 New Member
    I agree with emeraldkity4; my daughter had a non-physics friend working on the reactor. My daughter loved Reed, as did all her friends. Its a wonderful environment for studying science or anything.
  • International95International95 Registered User Posts: 1,612 Senior Member
    It's less about the competition and more about the difficulty in going on with the training and operating the reactor. A lot of people realize that it's not worth the effort and abandon it.

    Physics is a very demanding major at Reed, but it's very rewarding. Amongst liberal arts colleges, Reed produces the most # (not just a high rate) of physics and chemistry PhDs almost every year. Many physics/chemistry majors use the reactor for thesis projects.

    I don't think your daughter should apply ED to Reed just because of the reactor though. Fit is much more important. The physics program, however, is superb, which is rare for a liberal arts college. You'd be surprised by how average some physics programs are, even at top liberal arts colleges.
  • GhosttGhostt Registered User Posts: 1,658 Senior Member
    The reactor program is cool and valuable and personally rewarding, but it's not something that prepares you for graduate school admissions or serves as research experience or anything like that. Don't instrumentalize it. The only thing it prepares you for is running a (small) nuclear reactor.
  • CASrMomCASrMom Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    My son joined the program his freshman year, and took the Sr. operator test this spring. He enjoys the camaraderie of the group and is proud of passing the NRC exam. Also, after you put in the huge amount of unpaid work freshman year to get certified, it's an easy source of income in following years. However, I second that it isn't really useful for career purposes (every reactor has its own certification process) and not all that impressive on internship/grad school applications. Also, the reactor isn't used all that much for research - it's often out of order and there doesn't seem to be anyone responsible for getting best use out of it. Mostly, the operators give tours and fix stuff.
  • rhg3rdrhg3rd Registered User Posts: 947 Member
    "My daughter is interested in particle physics." Then a particle accelerator would be more appropriate than a nuclear reactor. Berkeley, Stanford, Chicago and Cornell have such. However, these are considered to be medium to low energy facilities by today's standards.
This discussion has been closed.