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The VCU Reactor Simulator provides a solid technical and visual approach to simulating a commercial pressurized water nuclear power plant. The simulator provides several benefits for VCU including: a hands on learning instrument that can be used in nuclear engineering courses, an opportunity for students to gain experience in nuclear modeling and simulation, and a community outreach tool to expand the public’s knowledge of nuclear technology.

In the six years since its inception, the only prior major modification to the simulator was the replacement of in-house written LabVIEW coding as the calculation engine with the RETRAN- 3D code, a program designed for the transient thermal-hydraulic analysis of complex fluid flow systems such as nuclear reactors. The 2015-2016 enhancements consisted of major redesigns of both the simulator hardware and the simulator user interface with the goals of improved ergonomics, portability, viewer experience, ease of use, and robustness. The design focus changed from the emulation of an actual plant simulator for operator training to one of enhancing student instruction in nuclear power plant design, behavior, and operation. Replacement of the complex and maintenance intensive LabVIEW coding with a Fortran GUI provides a simpler and more intuitive user interface allowing operation by novice users without the need for instructor supervision.

Publication Date



Mechanical and nuclear engineering, Simulator, Reactor, Nuclear, Educational


Engineering | Mechanical Engineering | Nuclear Engineering

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

James G. Miller

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Daniell Tincher

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

William Beck

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

John Lautzenheiser

VCU Capstone Design Expo Posters


© The Author(s)

Date of Submission

August 2016

Educational Nuclear Reactor Simulator