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Diversity In Action

The U.S. Navy has jobs for engineers and scientists

Thousands of civilians are employed and more are needed. Diversity is increasingly important to the Navy, says its chief of naval operations

Captain Ken Barrett, head of the Navy’s diversity directorate, works with staff members. The U.S. Navy has a great many interesting technical jobs to fill. Many of them can be filled by civilians as well as active-duty or reserve military personnel.

�We are working to bring in a lot of engineers and scientists,� says Captain Ken Barrett, head of the Navy�s diversity directorate. �The number is in excess of a thousand this year. We�re hiring on the civilian side and recruiting on the active-duty side.�

The Navy hires civilians, including new grads, into engineering positions in the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and other divisions.

ONR hires scientists as well as engineers in its mission to promote science and technology collaboration between the U.S. and researchers around the globe. NAVSEA engineers build and support the nation�s fleet of ships and combat systems, and manage the infrastructure that supports them, from docks and ports to the integration of complex shipboard electronics. NAVAIR is responsible for avionics and new aircraft.

Alan Dean.Alan Dean, head of the corporate workforce office for the NAVSEA Warfare Centers, explains that the 53,000 NAVSEA employees are 90 percent civilian, and include �just about any kind of engineer you can think of.� Experienced engineers are needed to backfill for retiring senior technical folks, he notes.

Skills from the civilian industrial world are extremely applicable. NAVSEA held a job fair in Detroit this spring, hoping to recruit engineers with automotive experience. Another fair, in Washington, DC, was aimed at acquisition and logistics experts. All civilian Navy employees must be U.S. citizens, and able to obtain security clearances, Dean notes.

On the uniformed side, Barrett says, there�s a need for officers with STEM backgrounds. Some officers train at the Naval Academy in Annapolis; others participate in a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC) program in college and become officers at graduation. Still more become uniformed Navy techies through the Naval Reserves or Officer Candidate School (OCS).

Barrett explains that OCS is a three-month post-college training course. �I call it Navy 101,� he says with a smile, �because you get Navy history and tradition, math and science, and learn what it�s all about to be an officer.� From there recruits follow a particular rating, or career path, like surface warfare, shipboard engineering, Navy flight school and more.

In general, officer candidates must be no older than thirty-five when they receive their commissions. Members of the Naval Reserves can join up until age thirty-nine. �The Naval Reserves are like the other services� reserve programs,� Barrett says: one weekend a month and an annual training program. �If you come in with a civil engineering degree, for example, you can work in that area. Of course you may be activated, but after active service you come back to the reserve one weekend a month.�

Barrett understands that the Navy is in competition with major corporations for diverse talent. �We spend a lot of time with SHPE, NSBE, SWE and similar groups,� he says.

The Navy is interested in helping to prime the STEM pipeline through various outreach programs in the schools. For example, �NavOps: deep submergence� is a math, science and technology learning platform for students using a submarine control-room simulator as a classroom. �Starbase-Atlantis� programs from Hawaii to Rhode Island bring students together with active-duty naval personnel to explore STEM careers.

�We target major metropolitan areas where the population is diverse,� Barrett says. �We�ve added outreach officers to our recruiting stations at many of those locations.�

Diversity is increasingly important to the Navy, says chief of naval operations Admiral Gary Roughead. �As our population changes and the percentages of majority/minority change, we have to reflect the same demographic. At the end of the day, the Navy is stronger because of the different perspectives and ideas that people bring to bear.�


U.S. Navy
U.S. Navy


Headquarters: The Pentagon, Washington, DC
Active duty personnel: 330,000
2008 annual budget: $139.8 billion Mission: Maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas

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