Student one of the 1st women to join submarine program

A University student is among the first females selected to join the Navy’s submarine program.

Due to a recent change in policy, the Navy will begin allowing females to serve on submarines.

Among the first group will be Kristin Schoemaker, junior in Engineering, who has been accepted into the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate, or NUPOC, Program.

“The Navy is finally at a point, due to more modern submarines, where it can give women officers the privacy that wasn’t previously available,” Schoemaker said.

Schoemaker, who has always been interested in the nuclear industry, first heard of the program through a meeting of the local chapter of the American Nuclear Society. She said she decided to apply because of the options it would make available to her.

“When I heard of the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate Program, it was the perfect opportunity for me to serve my country as a leader and advance my skills as a nuclear engineer,” she added.

After a long application project ­— which took Schoemaker from June 2010 to January 2011 to complete and included a physical, two technical interviews, which test for skills in calculus and mechanics, and an interview with a four-star admiral — Schoemaker was accepted among the first cohort of females in NUPOC. She believes her experiences here at the University have prepared her well.

“I feel that the knowledge I got from our top-ranked engineering program really prepared me for the technical interviews,” Schoemaker said. “I didn’t really struggle with any of the concepts that I had learned previously in the University.”

The application process also held several benefits for Schoemaker.

“The best part of applying for NUPOC was being flown to Jacksonville, Fla., to visit Kings Bay in Georgia,” she said. “This is where we got to meet the submarine crew and tour the large training facilities.”

Originally planning for a career at a nuclear power plant, Schoemaker said she was first drawn to the idea of practicing nuclear technology in a submarine upon a visit to the USS West Virginia, where she was particularly struck by the camaraderie as well as the cutting-edge nuclear technology.

She added that she hopes to specialize in nuclear reactors on board submarines, as well as the fuel that supplies them.

Schoemaker said she is excited about the opportunity and hopes to accomplish much.

“I will not only be in one of the first group of women on a submarine,” she said. “I will also be able to serve my country and lay a path for women of future generations interested in going to sub school.”