Hacker News new | comments | show | ask | jobs | submit login

I was going to reply to the original post but this perhaps more apropos. My father started his career with Babcock & Wilcox after leaving a nuclear sub as an electrician's mate with a nuclear engineering MS; his division -- the org that designs and maintains reactors & power plants -- was later acquired by Framatome, which later formed part of Areva (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Areva). It's a French company, but entirely global and the nuclear power division (Areva NP) performs nearly all of it's reactor design work in the US, as well as most of the planning/oversight for power plant support & maintenance/inspection services.

(Speaking of plant inspections, the job of inspector is one of those high-stress but ├╝ber-high pay seasonal jobs you never hear about. $200k+ for 6mo/yr of work, but it's ~2000hrs of work compressed into that period.)

Anyhoo, growing up I was privileged to tour a number of different power plants in the US, and -- besides the scale of things Charlie notes in the blog post -- the thing that struck me most was that even though the designs were often very similar (all PWRs of some sort), the implementations were very different. Even though reactor design may be identical between plants, all the peripheral support infrastructure and all the wiring & plumbing is unique to each plant, and keeping track of everything is hugely complex.

As an aside, and the bring relevance to HN, because of the complexity of nuclear power plants -- particularly the plumbing and backup systems -- there is a huge market for simulation services (which is something Areva pretty much owns globally at this point), which consists of both electrical/mechanical engineering and software work. They literally build a control room for a specific power plant, identical to the actual control room but with software simulating all the inputs/outputs and allowing them to run all sorts of scenarios (and to train new operators). My dad had a few job openings for software engineers who had some nuke background, and positions requiring only a few years experience were paying $100-120k base, and this is in small city Virginia (Lynchburg) where you can buy a decent house for $150k.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | DMCA | Apply to YC | Contact