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Offline AndaMoo

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Engineering experience through Nuke
« on: Nov 06, 2014, 10:29 »
Hello,

Here is a little information about me before I get to my question.  I am a fairly recent college graduate (2011) in biology with a concentration in chemistry.  My work experience in and outside of college has been mostly as a biological laboratory technician.  However, I have found that this path really isn't for me.  This may seem very cheesy, but my main goal in life right now other than starting a family with my wife (not in the immediate future of course) is to find a career that I will love.

Ever since graduating, I have regretted not trying out engineering in some form.  In 2012 I was thinking about getting another bachelors degree in engineering, but I did not want the student debt.  I was fortunate enough to have a nice scholarship and a ton of help from my parents during my first four years.  I recently decided that I wasn't getting any younger, so I figured I would check out the Navy.  I know that the military provides hands-on training and education all while you are being paid and serving your country.  I feel like there are so many birds being hit with one stone, it doesn't seem real.  And after talking to one of my recruiters, he suggested the Nuclear Program to me as a way to get engineering experience/insight. 

So my question is (I am sorry if this is a redundant topic for everyone), has anyone felt that the Nuclear Program provided valuable engineering education and experience for them?  My idea is, if I get into the program and I find that it is my passion, I am going to continue my education no matter what after my service.  I am willing to do what it takes to find my career.  If anyone feels that the Nuclear Program is a good way to get the experience or if they have other program suggestions, please feel free to let me know.  I have looked at civil engineering, but at this time I am not interested in becoming an officer.  I want to enlist first, learn the ropes, and build a nice foundation before I take on more responsibilities.  Also, if anyone has been in the same boat and could let me know what they did, I would appreciate it.

A smaller issue I have is that I am currently waiting on an age waiver (age 26 this past October) to see if I will be accepted into the Nuclear Program.  I scored a 96 on the AFQT, but didn't have to take the NAPT for some reason.  I am guessing it might have to deal with my college education, or will I have to take the NAPT after my age waiver get processed?  Finally, on the day of swearing in, I was only given two possible jobs that fit my background: sonar technician and AECF.  I took the AECF contract while I am waiting for the age waiver, but I was confused on how few jobs I was offered.  I am guessing it was just the job availability at the time.  Any other ideas?

Thank you for your time.

Andy

Samabby

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #1 on: Nov 07, 2014, 08:31 »
Andy, what was your GPA?

Offline AndaMoo

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #2 on: Nov 07, 2014, 08:53 »
My GPA was 3.75 in college and 3.85 in High School.

Samabby

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #3 on: Nov 07, 2014, 10:56 »
Are you looking at Officer or Enlisted routes? Perhaps Mr. Gamecock will wade in.

Offline AndaMoo

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #4 on: Nov 07, 2014, 12:49 »
I have decided to go the enlisted route.  I would like to have a strong foundation to stand on before I decide to take on the responsibilities as an officer.  I feel like enlisting would help with this.

I did some research into becoming an officer, and after the long wait to be accepted into OCS (from what I was told) and the initial training, you need to have one deployment before you can go into your specialized training.  Also as a Nuclear Propulsion Officer (through NUPOC program), I don't qualify because I have only half a year of calculus based physics.  I don't think my general curiosity to explore engineering would be much of a good explanation for the Admiral to explain why I want to be a Nuclear Officer.
« Last Edit: Nov 07, 2014, 03:08 by AndaMoo »

Offline maroon

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #5 on: Nov 07, 2014, 03:05 »
With the possible exception of the Civil Engineers Corps, officers and sailors in the Navy don't do "real" engineering.  Nuke school consists of largely memorization, as opposed to any in depth theoretical study.  The Navy trains its people to be the operators and technicians that run the machines, and not the people designing them.  If you are looking to become a licensed engineer, the best way is to go back to college, as the Navy will not get you there.

Have you actually talked with an officer recruiter, or just an enlisted one?  I'm skeptical about the recruiter's claim that enlisting as a nuke will give you useful experience toward your goals, especially since you already have a degree in the sciences with a strong GPA.  If you want to be a nuclear officer, it may be worth it to take a semester of calculus and apply as soon as possible.  (Even if you want to eventually  become a nuclear officer after enlisting, you'll likely still need to complete calc during your limited free time before applying.)  There may also be other officer options (like Conventional SWO) which appeal to you, if you are looking for a position as a leader and manager.

Also be aware that if you enlist, most of your peers in the Navy will be 18-22 year olds straight out of high school.  They may have a different mindset than you do, being older.  While there are people who do enlist already having college degrees and are successful, you just need to be fully aware of what you are getting yourself in to.

You also talked about enlisting because you want to learn the ropes before becoming an officer, but just be aware that many officer programs require you to be commissioned by the age of 31 if you are prior enlisted (so your last chance to apply is about a year in advance).  You will only have a limited time to get enlisted experience and convince your chain of command to give you a recommendation before you become completely ineligible for officer programs, and those selection rates are still not very high. 

Offline AndaMoo

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #6 on: Nov 07, 2014, 03:54 »
I am sadly in the position where I have no idea what I want to be.  I have tried many different science fields, and engineering is the next one on my list.  I did think about going back to college, but the future debt was a deterrent.  My wife already has private college debt (huge).

One of my recruiters gave me the idea that I could go into the nuclear program to get hands on experience for engineering while getting paid and serving my country.  Then once I was done serving, I would have the experience I needed to see if I was actually interested in pursuing engineering as an undergrad or in graduate school.  I swore in last Thursday with this mindset only to find this website yesterday (I forgot to mention an important fact that I am in the DEP for enlists May2015).  I didn't do as much research as I should have.  I have to do something in the Navy now.  Don't get me wrong though.  I have been wanting to serve for a long time.

I signed a form saying I wasn't interested in speaking to a officer recruiter because I don't know if I could be a leader.  Being an officer was something that I gave some thought into.  I do have calculus credits though.  I completed calc I and calc II in college.

I will think about what you said concerning being an older enlist and about the limited timeframe for me to go from enlist to officer.  Thank you for the advice.

Druid

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #7 on: Nov 07, 2014, 04:31 »
I did some research into becoming an officer, and after the long wait to be accepted into OCS (from what I was told) and the initial training, you need to have one deployment before you can go into your specialized training.  Also as a Nuclear Propulsion Officer (through NUPOC program), I don't qualify because I have only half a year of calculus based physics.  I don't think my general curiosity to explore engineering would be much of a good explanation for the Admiral to explain why I want to be a Nuclear Officer.

Have you considered taking Physics II as a stand alone in the Spring semester? Having that second semester of Physics REALLY opens up your options and you have time before May. Those classes hardly ever fill completely and you could still consider it at this late date. As Maroon mentioned, you should still talk to an officer recruiter even if you are in DEP. Have you considered Direct Input?

Best of luck!
Druid

Offline Tyson812

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #8 on: Nov 07, 2014, 06:54 »
Andy, first you don't have to join, you are not obligated as of yet and many people change their minds at last second. In my opinion you would be making a huge mistake by not taking to an officer recruiter first. You would not be put in any real leadership position for the first 10 years or so anyways, which is plenty of time for you and those above you to decide if you can be a leader.

Another option they may not tell you about is a direct input LDO instructor option. You have a high enough gpa to qualify and would never deploy. You would only teach at NNPTC in charleston sc. You would gain exposure to the whole program though.

Yet another option would be to hire on at bechtel. Then you would actually go through the nuclear pipeline as a civilian, and then teach and operate a prototype. You would get paid well, while staying in one place and not deploying. You would still qualify eoow, which meets prereqs for sro if you decide you like nuclear power. This is probably the best option in my opinion. Good luck


Offline AndaMoo

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #9 on: Nov 07, 2014, 08:21 »
I have a hard time backing out of something when I have already sworn that I would do it.  Plus, I really want to serve.  I just want to do the best I can to get the most out of my service.  I am going to definitely consider taking physics II.  It has been almost 6 years since I took physics I, so I will have to do some major review.

From what I understand, a direct input officer is like a teacher.  I have never been the best teacher/trainer, so I don't think the direct input would be a good thing for me.  Who knows how the Navy would shape me through their training.  Maybe I would become a better teacher, but right now I see myself as someone who would focus on the technical work.

I am unfamiliar with the civilian bechtel route, but I would prefer to serve in the Navy before I get any older.

I will talk with a officer recruiter next week.  Right now I have thought of some possible, though probably unlikely, routes to take if I were to ultimately decide to be an officer.  I plan on asking about these paths to the recruiter:

1. Take physics II ASAP -> Apply for Naval Reactor Engineer through the NUPOC program (most basic but highly competitive)
2. Take physics II ASAP -> go through with enlistment into boot camp and Nuclear Program -> finish schooling in roughly two years -> work on a carrier for 1-2 years -> if interested in becoming an officer, apply for naval reactor engineer at age 29-30 (may need age waiver again but it can be up to age 35) through NUPOC -> finish more schooling and serve more

Offline klj3827

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #10 on: Nov 08, 2014, 07:24 »
Many of your options culminate with applying to be an NR engineer. That is a lofty goal, and just so you know what you are pursuing, you will do limited-to-no actual engineering as an NR engineer. NR engineers serve in an oversight role. The engineering and design work is mostly done by the Prime Contractors (Bechtel). Further, you could wind up working in environmental safety for your 5-year tour (or a similarly less engineering-heavy discipline). You have no say over where you land at NR and limited mobility for your 5 years. Staying on past 5 years is also difficult right now because there are limited billets available (both civilian and Navy).

I don't mean to deter you, but want to ensure your eyes are as wide open as possible before you get too far down the path.

Good luck.

Offline spekkio

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #11 on: Nov 08, 2014, 05:25 »
I have a hard time backing out of something when I have already sworn that I would do it.  Plus, I really want to serve.  I just want to do the best I can to get the most out of my service.  I am going to definitely consider taking physics II.  It has been almost 6 years since I took physics I, so I will have to do some major review.

From what I understand, a direct input officer is like a teacher.  I have never been the best teacher/trainer, so I don't think the direct input would be a good thing for me.  Who knows how the Navy would shape me through their training.  Maybe I would become a better teacher, but right now I see myself as someone who would focus on the technical work.

I am unfamiliar with the civilian bechtel route, but I would prefer to serve in the Navy before I get any older.

I will talk with a officer recruiter next week.  Right now I have thought of some possible, though probably unlikely, routes to take if I were to ultimately decide to be an officer.  I plan on asking about these paths to the recruiter:

1. Take physics II ASAP -> Apply for Naval Reactor Engineer through the NUPOC program (most basic but highly competitive)
2. Take physics II ASAP -> go through with enlistment into boot camp and Nuclear Program -> finish schooling in roughly two years -> work on a carrier for 1-2 years -> if interested in becoming an officer, apply for naval reactor engineer at age 29-30 (may need age waiver again but it can be up to age 35) through NUPOC -> finish more schooling and serve more
I think that you should Google the job requirements for NRE before you make long term plans to get there. For starters, you need an actual engineering degree, and enlisting won't change that. There are other commissioning programs that you are eligible for.

You'll need Physics 2 to go sub officer or SWO nuke. Again, enlisting first won't change that.

You have a degree, so you're ineligible for STA21.

Enlisting will not give you a stronger foundation to serve as an officer unless you serve longer than one enlistment, and even then it will only help you very early in your career. Think of it this way: the branch manager of a Walmart who is worried about inventory, sales figures, operating costs, etc doesn't need to push carts in  the lot for 2 years to know how to do his job.

Enlisting is silly given your career goals, unless your path involves using the GI bill to get another bachelor's in engineering. Getting that degree is the only way you'll be an engineer.
« Last Edit: Nov 08, 2014, 05:27 by spekkio »

Offline AndaMoo

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #12 on: Nov 10, 2014, 04:28 »
Thanks a lot for all the information.  I am going to think about the advice and information you all gave me.  I really appreciate it.   :)

Offline Gamecock

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Re: Engineering experience through Nuke
« Reply #13 on: Nov 13, 2014, 08:20 »
Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation job site posted below....

https://bmpc.mua.hrdepartment.com/hrdepartment/ats/JobSearch/index

I currently work there.   I was hired about six months after I retired from the navy.  BMPC does the real engineering work for the nuclear propulsion program. It's a really good job, whether working at the prototypes or one of the labs.

Cheers,

GC
“If the thought police come... we will meet them at the door, respectfully, unflinchingly, willing to die... holding a copy of the sacred Scriptures in one hand and the US Constitution in the other."

 


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