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Nuclear Engineering, Child Life Degrees Coming To Tech

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
Nuclear Engineering, Child Life Degrees Coming To Tech

Tennessee Tech introducing science degree programs in nuclear engineering and child life as both fields see increased demand.

Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Lori Bruce said some 380 nuclear engineers graduate each year in the United States. She said of some 14,000 nuclear engineers employed in the country, some 40 percent are expected to retire in the next five years. She said child life professionals have been in higher demand since the COVID-19 pandemic when child healthcare needs were not met.

“Both are meeting needs and helping our students who graduate find really fulfilling and, frankly, well-paying jobs out in industry, which is an important goal for us,” Bruce said. “To ensure that our students graduate with not just a job, but a lifelong career.”

Bruce said with enrollment increasing each year at Tech and a wealth of scientific knowledge on staff, the new programs are perfect fits. She said some 40 percent of Tech students major in programs that are science-related. She said these programs will help those graduates find professional success and personal satisfaction.

“We’re very measured and deliberate,” Bruce said. “We don’t just launch new academic programs just on a whim. We start by looking at, what are our current resources. We do a feasibility study. We do market analysis.”

Bruce said the school also monitors the competing programs in the region to determine if there is space in the job market. She said finally, the school looks at its resources to decide if it is well-poised to offer a program of quality.

“A licensed child life professional will work with families, for example, if you have a child at the Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt or Saint Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital,” Bruce said. “So, they work with the families. They serve as an advocate for the families and the child, but they also are interacting with that child and ensuring that all of the psychosocial care for that child and their family is being met.”

She said the school offers a child life undergraduate focus, but with favorable enrollment projections for next year, she expects the student body to be able to support a degree program. She said these programs will add to the abundant STEM-infused programs at the university.


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