Jan 27, 2009    #011
Contact: Laura Byerley

Nuclear engineering field growing amid recession Two UMKC students participate in U.S. Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate program

At a time when several Americans are clinging to their jobs, two students at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Computing and Engineering (SCE) are enjoying as much as $3,400 a month to spend as they please, free health and dental care and work experience through the U.S. Navy�s Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program. As long as these students remain in school, maintain a competitive grade-point average and promise to serve five years as a nuclear-trained officer onboard a submarine or aircraft carrier; as an instructor at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, S.C.; or as a naval reactors engineer in Washington, D.C. � this American dream cannot be taken away.

In fact, the demand for nuclear propulsion employees is an increasing priority, said Lieutenant Junior Grade Clarence Smith, a U.S. Navy Mustang who is recruiting engineering, chemistry and physics students from UMKC to join NUPOC.

�The Navy�s number one priority is diversity, and the Navy's number two priority is recruiting people for nuclear propulsion,� Smith said. �These graduates come out head and shoulders above other college graduates. They�re veterans and they�ve prepared in the workforce, as compared to college alone. They know how to manage a budget, people and time.�

At the five-year mark, these officers will be the highest-paid in all the U.S. military at their pay grade with total pay and benefits of about $120,000 per year.

Instead of searching for jobs, Jared Bayne � a senior electrical and computer engineering student at SCE � knows exactly where he�ll go after he graduates in May. First, he will go to Newport, R.I. for officer candidate training. Then, he will go to Charleston, S.C. for nuclear power training and Groton, Conn. for submarine training. After that two-year process, Bayne will be assigned to a submarine.

Robert Lambrechts, an adjunct instructor in SCE, a Commander in the Navy and a partner in the Overland Park, Kan. office of Lathrop & Gage LLP, introduced Smith to SCE faculty. In mid-December, SCE faculty members toured ships and submarines driven by small nuclear reactors in San Diego.

�This is a very generous scholarship that not only pays an excellent stipend for two years but includes medical insurance,� said Jerry Place, an associate professor of engineering at SCE. �The Navy is willing to support serious, well-qualified students and it behooves us to know as much about this program as we can so we can better advise our students.�

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a four-part mission: life and health sciences; visual and performing arts; urban issues and education; and a vibrant learning and campus life experience.

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