A Day in the Life: Nuclear Core Design Engineer
Published: Feb 01, 2021
8:00 AM: I arrive at the office and log into my computer. All of my work is completed using software on the computer.
8:00 AM–9:00 AM: I review e-mails and answer any voice messages I may have received while I was out of the office. Some people work later shifts, and they return my calls after I have left for the day. I have learned that setting aside the time to return calls and e-mails, rather than doing it intermittently throughout the day, makes more efficient use of my time and allows me to focus on each task. I dedicate two hours, this hour and an hour at the end of the day, to complete this important task. I receive calls about projects I am working on, or in answer to questions I may have had about project specifications. Getting the answers and information I need first thing in the day helps me to complete the projects I have scheduled for the day.
9:00 AM–9:30 AM: Each day, all engineers and others on our team are required to attend a short meeting to review the operations of the plant and receive updates from members of management. This can include project updates. We also have the opportunity during this time to ask questions and discuss items on our list and to set priorities. We do a good job keeping the meeting brief, to half an hour, so we can get started on our projects as soon as possible.
9:30 AM–12:00 AM: Following the meeting, I work alone in my cubicle on engineering design projects. I may have several smaller projects or a few large projects that I work on throughout the morning. These may include analysis and calculations to solve equipment problems or reviewing current equipment performance and identifying more efficient ways to operate. Sometimes the work involves planning upgrades and retrofitting existing equipment, testing new equipment, or engineering its implementation. Other times I design fuel bundles and cores that will allow our plant to meet customer's energy needs. I utilize company specs, requirements, policies, and regulations while I work on each project and create designs. I also have to keep in mind federal regulations for our facility and all safety regs and requirements. Making sure regulatory standards are met can involve writing long reports to document compliance. When I have questions, I will interface with a technical mentor, supervisor, or manager, depending on the nature of the question or problem that has come up.
12:00 PM–1:00 PM: Lunch. I usually bring my lunch each day, and I go to the employee break room and eat. It is good to take a full hour off to refresh my mind before returning to my desk.
1:00 PM–4:00 PM: I return to my cubicle to get back to work on my engineering design projects, again, interfacing with my technical mentor or other engineers, supervisors, or managers, as needed. On some occasions, I may need to visit the project site for additional information or to study a problem, but most of the time I am able to focus on my work at my desk. I have all reference material necessary online, and frequently refer to it throughout the design process.
4:00 PM–5:00 PM: This is the second hour of the day that I use to review my e-mails and return any voice messages I have received since the morning. Taking this hour at the end of the day to do this allows me to keep the time I spend returning calls/e-mails in the morning to the one hour I have allotted. It can also serve as a good way to wind down at the end of the day. Occasionally it takes me longer than one hour to complete all the calls or e-mails I need to make, and I stay until they have been completed. Usually though, I am able to leave at 5:00.