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splittingatoms

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Unread post14 Dec 2017, 16:56

Hello, I'm a long time lurker (probably a couple years now) who finally decided to join. I'm a nuclear engineer by trade, but have found fighter jets quite interesting for a while. I would say my interests really became significant when I saw the F-35 under such scrutiny/criticism. Knowing the difficulties of large projects, the general incompetence of journalists, and the inconclusive nature of first tests, I wanted to learn more about the F-35 and find more nuanced opinions. I stumbled onto Elements of Power and read SGTMac's posts and then found my way over here. Since then, I've often posted on Quora and become one of the top writers over there on F-35 questions, but never actually posted over here. Here are some samples of my answers:

Is the F-35 really a sitting duck for the SU-27 Flanker?
https://www.quora.com/Is-the-F-35-reall ... -Stansbury
Is there any Russian fighter jet that can beat USA's F35 Lightning II?
https://www.quora.com/Is-there-any-Russ ... -Stansbury
Why doesn't the F-35 go as fast as the Mig-35?
https://www.quora.com/Why-doesnt-the-F- ... -Stansbury
Can F-35 really replace A-10 as the USAF intend to do?
https://www.quora.com/Can-F35-really-re ... -Stansbury
In case of war, if the US loses half of its F-22s, what would be the best choice to replace them since there is no way to produce more F-22?
https://www.quora.com/In-case-of-war-if ... -Stansbury
Will Trump bring back the F-14 tomcat as our navy no longer has air superiority with the F/A-18 super hornet?
https://www.quora.com/Will-Trump-bring- ... -Stansbury

I am looking forward to contributing a bit more here. If you have any nuclear questions, I can do a pretty credible job on those too!
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post14 Dec 2017, 17:36

Welcome aboard, looking forward to your input, and Merry Christmas.
"The early bird gets the worm but the second mouse gets the cheese."
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white_lightning35

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Unread post14 Dec 2017, 17:52

Hello person! I have questions regarding nuclear engineering. Do you think it is a smart field for someone going into an engineering college to get into these days? I am just curious about what openings and positions there are. One of my top schools is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They have a strong nuclear engineering program, so I would have a good opportunity to study that. I am unsure about whether it's something that's in demand in the future if people are looking away from nuclear.

Thanks
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juretrn

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Unread post14 Dec 2017, 18:06

Hello and welcome!
I've seen your answers on Quora, always nice to see answers on the F-35 that are not Russia stronk-isms or Sprey-isms.
Russia stronk
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botsing

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Unread post14 Dec 2017, 18:50

Welcome splittingatoms, it's good to see an educated person like you to pop up here.

p.s. I also like your answers about nuclear topics!
"Those who know don’t talk. Those who talk don’t know"
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popcorn

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Unread post15 Dec 2017, 00:12

Welcome and looking forward to your inputs.
"When a fifth-generation fighter meets a fourth-generation fighter—the [latter] dies,”
CSAF Gen. Mark Welsh
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splittingatoms

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Unread post18 Dec 2017, 16:47

white_lightning35 wrote:Hello person! I have questions regarding nuclear engineering. Do you think it is a smart field for someone going into an engineering college to get into these days? I am just curious about what openings and positions there are. One of my top schools is Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. They have a strong nuclear engineering program, so I would have a good opportunity to study that. I am unsure about whether it's something that's in demand in the future if people are looking away from nuclear.

Thanks


That's a good question. Depending on your outcome on life, it's an answer requiring as much speculation as playing housing markets or trying to time the market. There are 99 operating nuclear power plants in the United States. Depending on the vote this week, there may be two more (assuming they finish Vogtle) around the time you would graduate. Assuming a bare minimum of 400 people per plant (600-800 is more like it), you can see that's quite a few positions. Despite a surge in degrees and hiring in the late 2000s, there is still an aged workforce at many of these plants. So in that regard and on the surface, I think you would do well to get a nuclear engineering degree if you're willing to move.

The problem is the market is not particularly friendly to nuclear power right now. Natural gas has basically taken everyone's lunch money. Natural gas is fracked from the ground with little to no regulation or significant taxation (and I just moved from PA where I had 13 wells within a 5 minute drive). It is then sold at or under the market value of production (lots of smaller companies have gone under). Then it goes to a combined cycle plant, benefitting from all of the amazing technology developed in F-119, F-135, Trent, GE9x etc. These plants are now around 62-63% Net efficiency. They can be run by 20-40 guys and installed ahead of schedule and under budget...those schedules and budgets range from 14-24 months and often under $1000/kW. Point is, at a levelized cost of electricity of ~$48/kWh, even a paid-for nuclear plant will struggle in certain markets. I believe we'll probably lose half of the nuclear plants in the U.S. in the next 20 years unless natural gas prices go up over $6-$8 or something else significant happens. A good percentage of those experienced workers will be out there fighting for jobs, so there will definitely be uncertainty in the market, depending on what time you enter it.

Nuclear power has really been regulated to a point of non-competitiveness. The industry let it happen, because prior to the fracking boom, it seemed like costs could be absorbed and we'd still be the cheapest thing on the grid. Now those things are as good as unreversible and we must lie in the bed we made.

There are a whole bunch of new designs...gotta be over 100. The vast majority promise great things. The vast majority of them have no idea what they're doing and are delusional. There are a small subset which actually promise to be competitive, even factoring in regulations etc. I happen to be working on one of them (no bias) and think we can beat natural gas if we keep our eye on the prize. We can also play nicely with renewables with this design, which will likely be required for any future plant. So if we can deliver, maybe a whole new fleet will spring up.

Nuclear engineering is good money and places one in as high-class a group as could be desired. However, you go into nuclear engineering because you believe that it's the right thing for the world and has the potential to enrich the lives of many. There are better career choices to make if market stability and job security are number one.

P.S. The guys at Bettis and KAPL will still be making submarine and carrier reactors for a long time, so that's an opportunity regardless of the civilian side. There are also national labs if you want to go burn some taxpayer dollars.
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splittingatoms

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Unread post18 Dec 2017, 16:51

Thanks to everyone else for the warm welcome!
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KamenRiderBlade

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Unread post18 Dec 2017, 17:29

Natural Gas is still a "Fossil Fuel".

So we need to reduce consumption if we want to minimize damage to the environment.

Next Generation Nuclear has that potential that traditional "Fossil Fuels" don't.
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splittingatoms

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Unread post18 Dec 2017, 18:26

KamenRiderBlade wrote:Natural Gas is still a "Fossil Fuel".

So we need to reduce consumption if we want to minimize damage to the environment.

Next Generation Nuclear has that potential that traditional "Fossil Fuels" don't.


Don't disagree, but the markets speak louder than ideals. The markets aren't even either...nuclear is regulated to be the cleanest of clean options, but treated as something dirtier (or as dirty) as coal. Nuclear doesn't even have a true voice in politics. Republicans like nuclear, but not as much as fossil and of course the entire left (yes, a few like nuclear), infatuated with "renewables" (read: unreliables), are the best NG plant sales people on earth. The few exceptions, like Michael Shellenberger, are often ostracized for their non-pure viewpoint.

There is a reason why GE and Siemens sell both wind turbines and gas turbines...selling wind turbines is the best way there is to guarantee gas turbine sales while still coming across as "green." It's a brilliant marketing strategy.
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KamenRiderBlade

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Unread post19 Dec 2017, 08:14

splittingatoms wrote:
KamenRiderBlade wrote:Natural Gas is still a "Fossil Fuel".

So we need to reduce consumption if we want to minimize damage to the environment.

Next Generation Nuclear has that potential that traditional "Fossil Fuels" don't.


Don't disagree, but the markets speak louder than ideals. The markets aren't even either...nuclear is regulated to be the cleanest of clean options, but treated as something dirtier (or as dirty) as coal. Nuclear doesn't even have a true voice in politics. Republicans like nuclear, but not as much as fossil and of course the entire left (yes, a few like nuclear), infatuated with "renewables" (read: unreliables), are the best NG plant sales people on earth. The few exceptions, like Michael Shellenberger, are often ostracized for their non-pure viewpoint.

There is a reason why GE and Siemens sell both wind turbines and gas turbines...selling wind turbines is the best way there is to guarantee gas turbine sales while still coming across as "green." It's a brilliant marketing strategy.
Another reason why I don't fully trust "Renewables" to be the backbone of the Electric Industry.

Nuclear is clearly the best solution, yet they want to rely on "Unreliable" sources like "Renewables".
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splittingatoms

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Unread post22 Dec 2017, 01:54

Good news for those pro-nuclear...Georgia Public Service Commission voted to finish Vogtle reactors. If we can just get those first two out of the way, we can hopefully drop costs precipitously (just like F-35 costs continue to plummet).

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