Skip Navigation

APSU student accepted to Navy's officer nuclear program

October 29, 2002

For the first time in history, an Austin Peay student has been accepted to the U.S. Navy's prestigious Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program (NUPOC).

Stephanie Schmitt, daughter of Stephen and Robin Schmitt of Franklin, Tenn., was chosen for the program based on her academic achievement and proficiency in calculus and physics. She also was selected for her ability to answer questions and present herself as an instructor during an interview in Washington, D.C., with nuclear engineers and an admiral.

Coming into the program as sophomore physics major, Schmitt automatically receives enlisted rank as a petty officer first class. In addition to a $10,000 sign-on bonus, she will receive $2,500 per month as a "living stipend" while finishing her degree at APSU.

After graduation, she will attend Officer Candidate School (OCS) in Rhode Island and begin her career as a naval officer.

Schmitt will become a nuclear instructor at the Navy's Nuclear Power School in Charleston, S.C. for the next four years. She hopes to continue her education and eventually obtain a doctorate in physics.

Until then, the most difficult job she has is to maintain a 3.3 GPA.

“It's all starting to sink in now that I'm in upper division classes,” Schmitt said. “It's going to be tougher to keep my grades up.”

Through the challenge, however, Schmitt realizes her accomplishment:“ I'm the first one from Austin Peay to be accepted into the program. It's a big honor.”

The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program was established under the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) in 1948 to discover whether atomic power could be harnessed for submarine propulsion. Research in pressurized water technology under the program became the basis for all subsequent U.S. nuclear-powered warship designs. Today, nuclear energy powers the Navy's submarines and most aircraft carriers at high speeds for years without refueling.