Nuclear engineering is a part of the greater field of engineering. It deals with principles of nuclear physics in a practical way. In other words, a nuclear engineer understands nuclear physics and applies this knowledge on concrete nuclear systems, for example, nuclear power plants, nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors. There are also other fields with which nuclear engineers are involved in the health sciences. For example, nuclear engineers may work in radiotherapy or diagnostic imaging. In other words, health sciences are seeing a substantial growth with the field of medicine, as scientists better understand how important nuclear technologies can be for our health.
The foundation of nuclear engineering is processes such as nuclear fission and nuclear fusion. Therefore, the nuclear engineer is one who masters nuclear physics. But the nuclear engineer then uses his or her knowledge for very specific practical purposes, such as the generation of energy, the field where most nuclear engineers are employed. For example, a nuclear engineer may work in the field of maintenance of nuclear power plants. He or she may also be involved in designing and developing new technologies related to nuclear engineering, such as improving reactor cores or developing new techniques of safety related to systematic parts of power plants.
Nuclear engineers are also involved with the problems of nuclear engineering. For example, when a nuclear disaster happens, a nuclear engineer may be called in to examine the scene and understand why the accident happened. The studies of the nuclear engineer then can be used to prevent further such accidents. Nuclear engineers also play an important role in understanding how to dispose of nuclear waste, which can potentially cause health and environmental problems if not properly disposed of. In this sense, nuclear engineering is the field of efficient and safe application and use of the principles of nuclear physics for practical purposes.