ANNAPOLIS, Md. — U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen can now major in nuclear engineering, and the school is offering aerospace engineering majors a chance to specialize in rotorcraft engineering for Navy and Marine Corps leadership positions related to vertical lift aircraft.

The academy announced Thursday that the nuclear engineering major will be available to the class of 2017. The rotorcraft engineering specialty will be the only formal undergraduate program of its kind in the nation, the academy said. The first midshipmen in the rotorcraft track will graduate in May 2015.

Martin Nelson, a mechanical engineering professor at the academy, said nine members of the class of 2016 will take courses to complete the new nuclear engineering major. Midshipmen who pursue a degree in nuclear engineering will study nuclear propulsion, applications of radiological technology and systems of nuclear powered ships and weapons. Graduates will have the opportunity to work in the Navy’s nuclear power program.

“The major will not only offer theory but also real-world experience and provide a very strong analytical background and understanding of engineering principals,” Nelson said.

The new rotorcraft engineering program is the largest expansion of the academy’s curriculum since the astronautics track was added in 1985. The program will include a rotorcraft performance course, rotorcraft stability and control course and a year-long course that will involve designing, building and testing rotary wing Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

“We’re very excited about this program,” said Capt. Ken Ham, chair of the academy’s aerospace engineering department. “Thanks to it we will better prepare future officers to fill leadership positions related to vertical lift aircraft, and will be able to expand our capabilities in performing relevant rotorcraft research.”

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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