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Senior Engineer, Design Engineering, Mechanical Engineer
U.S. Navy - Lieutenant, Undersea Warfare Officer

As a new employee, my priority is to become qualified as a Design Engineer. A common, initial training plan for all sub-departments within engineering takes about a year to complete. Many of these courses were familiar to me from my Naval Nuclear Engineer training, but with emphasis on the particulars of a privately run, civilian power generation station. Along with that qualification track are my design qualifications, where I will be responsible for maintaining the plant's design basis (licensed configuration) when modifications need to be installed on the various systems. My role is to manage the configuration change in such a manner that, when installed, it performs its intended function and meets the standards of our license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), or to seek approval from them should a design change deviate from the license. Overall, the goal is to produce a quality engineering document that always ensures the safety of the public, while improving the performance of the nuclear power plant. Procedural compliance, attention to detail and a forceful questioning attitude, among other qualities, are absolutely required for this career. It is very challenging to dive deep into a problem to verify with complete certainty that you have eliminated or mitigated any potential risks to the modification, but I work with industry experts that have decades of experience in the nuclear power industry.


I am in a unique situation, as my wife is still active duty, so the financial pressure some may feel wasn't there for me. However, if you know you're separating from the service, you must have a plan for where you want to go and what you want to do. Be wise about your leave. If there is a job conference you want to go to, take leave for it, and the same goes for interviews. Don't wait until you are on terminal leave to pack in your job search, be proactive. If you get push-back from your command, just remember there is a DD-214 waiting for you at the end. It's alright to be a bit selfish, you've earned it.


My goal when I got off active duty was to finish my Master’s degree. Advanced degrees are a formal acknowledgment of your professional experience. There are many factors that go into choosing a field of study, but choose one that complements your military experience. I have a BS in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s of Engineering Management. Those dovetail nicely with Naval Nuclear Power and directly translated to civilian nuclear power. Even if you choose something not as straightforward as that career path, you need to demonstrate mastery in a particular area if you want to transition to another field.  It demonstrates commitment and competency to an employer. Though as a naval officer I was a “jack of all trades” generalist manager, I wasn’t a “master of none.” I focused on engineering through formal education and experience.

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