by TIFFANY LIU
Bypassing gender boundaries, senior Jazmine Jimenez will pursue her passion in engineering by enlisting in the United States Navy’s most advanced Nuclear Engineering program.
“To me, being one of the only females in this program is going to be a little weird when I get there, but I don’t want that to stop me,” said Jimenez, “I just want to keep working and do my best.”
One of the most prestigious areas in the Navy, the nuclear power field involves intensive work and high intellectual challenges, according to navy.com. A “nuke,” a person who specializes in the Navy’s nuclear field, has various duties, such as training young sailors or managing power plants.
To become a “nuke,” one must first show proficiency in mathematics and science by scoring high on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test. Applicants will be quizzed on topics such as general science and electronics.
With her contract signed and enlistment completed, Jimenez prepares for the tests ahead in November, when she will attend Nuclear Field “A” school for a few months. During this time, basic skills such as algebra and chemistry are reviewed and new topics such as thermodynamics are taught.
After completing “A” school, students will attend a six-month nuclear power school (NPS) where they will acquire a deeper understanding of a pressurized-water naval nuclear power plant, according to the article “Recruiting a ‘Nuke’” by Tyler Fraser, Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class, Navy Recruiting Command Public Affairs.
Then, potential “nukes” must enroll in nuclear prototype training (NPT) for another six months, where they will apply the skills they learned on equipment at an operating nuclear propulsion plant.
“All the schooling is free, and you get college credits, depending on what you do. I believe I can get up to 50 credits or a little bit more,” said Jimenez.
Hoping to pursue a career as a nuclear officer, Jimenez must earn a Bachelors or Masters degree in mathematics or other technical areas and complete a minimum of one year of calculus-based sciences, after finishing NPT.
“I’m going to be working in either an aircraft carrier or submarine, making sure the ship or submarine runs smoothly. I’m going to be under the whole ship and just working with the valves or different stuff like that,” said Jimenez.
A specialized nuclear officer career path, submarine officers work on ballistic missiles and guided missile submarines to ensure that ships run smoothly and also oversee operations.
Although she plans to have a future in engineering, Jimenez was not always interested in this field. As a child, she hoped to become a doctor because of her interests in math and science. However, once she started researching more into the medical field, she discovered it was not for her.
“I mainly wanted to do something that was hands-on because I didn’t want to sit at a desk or anything,” said Jimenez, “so I thought Engineering was cool because you get to work with your hands and build things. That’s why I was more drawn to that.”
Determined to face any challenges in her path, Jimenez continues to persevere and work towards her goal—becoming one of the only female nuclear officers in the Navy.