Jared Gaynier ‘15 won’t be walking on stage at the Connie and Jim John Recreation Center during commencement on June 20. He’s graduating but he won’t be present to collect his Mechanical Engineering degree. Instead, he will be deployed on a Navy destroyer in port in San Diego, California
“I’ll spend 10 days on the ship at the Port to get orientated,” Gaynier said. “After that, I’ll be back on shore for a Basic Division Officer Course for 54 days before being back on the ship for the following 12-to-18 months.”
Gaynier is enrolled in the highly competitive Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program. As part of the program, Gaynier attended Officer Candidate School (OSC) in Newport, Rhode Island from March-to-May 2015.
“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do,” Gaynier said. “Particularly, the Navy because they travel all around the world. It’s an adventure. I always wanted to be challenged everyday and I know this is going to be a challenge.”
Gaynier describes the three-month OSC as an “unfamiliar and stressful environment.” The first three weeks focused on physical training and militarization with an emphasis on discipline and regimen. The next six weeks emphasized academics as officer candidates learn about naval history and engineering, navigation, weapons and leadership management and ethics. The final weeks were dedicated to applied leadership as Gaynier had an opportunity to train new incoming officer candidates in the various drills and techniques that he learned just a few weeks prior.
“One of their goals is to teach you how to handle stress,” Gaynier said. “They put you under physical stress. situational stress where you are processing information and then mental stress because you have an academic component. They put all these different stresses on you to teach you how to perform under stress.”
In the NUPOC program, Gaynier is being trained to one day manage the nuclear reactors aboard Navy aircraft carriers. After he completes his training in San Diego, Gaynier will be traveling to Charleston, South Carolina to further study nuclear energy as he continues to rise in the Naval ranks.
“My parents are both very supportive. My dad is a little bit more open to the idea,” Gaynier said. “Even when I went to Kettering, I came home very frequently so me moving away and being gone for long periods is going to be a big change for my mother. She’s working through it.”
A commonality between his experience at Kettering and currently in the Navy are the leadership opportunities and world-class technical and engineering training. Whereas, Kettering took Gaynier from his hometown in Monroe, Michigan to as far as the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, for his co-op, the Navy will take him the rest of the way around the world.
“Throughout my Kettering career, I had a variety of leadership roles so becoming an officer is just another step in developing my leadership skills and taking on more responsibility,” Gaynier said. “The NUPOC program in particular, it’s a very technical school. You have to know exactly how the nuclear reactor works and be able to troubleshoot and fix problems while you’re on a cruiser. The technical knowledge that will allow me to solve problems - I learned that at Kettering.”