Navy Dads

My daughter is scared of failing out during nuke school, so I was wondering what we can do to help her prepare before she heads to basic.  Is a year of college  a good idea first? 

I am a chemical engineer/chemist/professional tutor, so I'd love to help her as much as possible.  I may even be able to set up a course for others if I know what material to cover and at what level of detail.  

My first thoughts are:

  1. Algebra II and precalculus with an emphasis on word problems
  2. Algebra/Trig based college-level physics with an emphasis on thermodynamics, circuits, and nuclear physics
  3. Algebra/Trig based college-level chemistry with an emphasis on thermochemistry, and nuclear chemistry
  4. Mass and energy balances 
  5. Dimensional (unit) analysis and converting 

Wondering if we need to cover anything related to quantum mech/electron configurations/relativity/particle physics below proton, neutron, electron level or anything else 

I'd be happy to set up a course on schoology for others at no cost to our future nukes.  

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Replies to This Discussion

Hi Jeff

My son is in the Nuke program.

Although I'm not a Nuke, or engineer, my understanding is the Navy has specific ways of teaching various subjects and prefers to have those techniques used opposed to ways taught outside. So having knowledge outside the Navy might be helpful but not needed.

Be sure to encourage her to seek the tutoring services offered— they are excellent. Makes sure that she understands the Navy is investing a lot into her and do not want her fail. That said, it is NOT the end of the world if another path is chosen/offered.

Additionally, I am not sure it's a good idea for anyone to discuss what courses are covered n this program. I am sure you know it but I want to remind you that it would be a National Security issue.

Each sailor takes ALL their classes in one building. Nothing— notebooks, pens, computers, phones, etc— can be brought into the building or taken out. Each sailor is required to do an assigned number of hours of homework, again within the building. I think that assigned homework is different for each sailor.

Hope this helps.

I wish you and her all the best

TJ

My daughter is an instructor in the power school. She is a chemical engineer. They work hard to get the kids thru the courses. If your daughter hasn't been to boot camp yet, she will go thru A school then power school. A good knowledge of math (calculus and trig ) will make things easier. The hardest thing for these kids to deal with is the pace of instruction and the rigid rules they must follow. IT is the hardest Navy school. The instructors teach only what classified material the Navy requires to excel at their jobs. What TJ says below is accurate. No material leaves the building, no cellphones in the school.

And make sure she realizes this: the fear of failure is the death of success

she needs to live that!

I'll share some observations I had during my tour as a Chemistry/Materials/Radiological Fundamentals instructor at Nuke School from 2011-2014. That was my last (and most rewarding) duty station before I retired.

  • Taking advanced math/chemistry/physics classes is great, however, the curriculum is taught assuming the student is starting from square one. In my experience the more education a student had, the more they struggled because of the way the courses are taught. Not only do we assume the students are starting with no knowledge of a subject, the courses are taught from a different perspective. Those students are being trained to be operators and the curriculum is approached from that perspective. Especially with chemistry. I always told my students to take everything they learned about chemistry in high school/college and completely disregard it. Approach the courses as if you are learning the material for the first time, even if you have a PhD in chemistry.  Again, all of the courses, especially the second half courses in Power School, are approached from an operational perspective instead of a theoretical one. We teach just enough theory to make them dangerous. The instructors will strive (at least I did) to apply every lesson to an operational situation that they will likely encounter.
  • As far as math goes, that's the easy part. Some of the more complex math problems in the Radiological Fundamentals course really boil down to just simple unit conversions. Where students run into trouble is basic problem solving. Just being able to analyze the data that they are given and figure out how to get from point A to point B. The key here is that the student has to understand the concepts that are being taught to be able to do the math. The math will come naturally if the concepts are understood.
  • An underlying objective of the entire training pipeline is to teach the students the importance of procedural compliance. The classes are going to be taught a certain way and the students will be expected to solve problems in certain ways (even though there may be more than one "correct" way") and/or answer questions in a specific format. This is intentional and often a source of frustration among students. The Naval Nuclear Power Program is a very procedure driven organization. Procedural compliance is a way of life in this program. If the student goes into the training with this in mind, this should help to ease the frustration.
  • This is probably THE SINGLE MOST IMPORTANT THING you can do to be successful at Nuke School, and throughout the entire pipeline for that matter. USE THE INSTRUCTORS!!!! The typical daily class schedule at Power School has 6 hours of instruction (2 hours per subject) and 2 hours of study time. During these "study halls" students are encouraged (some are required) to visit the instructor offices to ask questions or get "run time." Run time is basically quiz session with the instructor where he/she will quiz the student on the various concepts that are being taught and fill in any gaps in knowledge/understanding that are uncovered. I can not stress this enough. I saw too many students fall into the trap of just sitting at their desk staring at their notes essentially trying to memorize the material when they could be interacting one on one or in small groups with an instructor and actually gaining conceptual understanding of the material. Their exam scores reflected it. There is also one or two instructors from each subject assigned to be available every night before an academic day from 6 to 9 PM (1800-2100 for you military types). IT IS THE INSTRUCTORS' JOB to help the students succeed. That doesn't mean they will hold their hand and feed them answers, but if a student seeks help, every instructor I taught with would bend over backwards to help a student succeed and I'm certain that is still the case.
  • For some of the courses, the students will be required to learn and reproduce definitions of certain terms encountered in the curriculum. This may seem trivial, but I put it to my students like this. Particularly for the Radiological Fundamentals course, they are going to be exposed to a ton of terms that they have never seen before. We are essentially teaching them a new language. What is one of the first things you do when you learn a new language? Learn the vocabulary. It's no different here. Learning and understanding these key terms will pay huge dividends in learning the overlaying concepts.
  • This is another very important point. Every course in Nuke School is cumulative. The concept you learn tomorrow will be built on the one you learn today. Review is key. REVIEW EVERY DAY. You don't have to review the entire course to date, but pick at one topic from a previous lesson to review each day. Pay particular attention to concepts that you struggled with. Most courses are divided into several grading periods with an exam at the end. The exams, just like the material, are cumulative. Any material that was covered during a previous grading period can be tested on the current GP exam. Again, review is key to keeping concepts from previous GPs fresh. You can't just take an exam and then brain dump the material to get ready for the next exam.
  • Another thing on exams, don't blow off your other courses because you have an exam in one. Study every course every day. Concentrate on the one with the exam coming up, but don't ignore the other subjects. DON'T CRAM FOR EXAMS!! 
  • I could go on and on, but I will leave with one final thought unless specific questions come up in replies. Just like anything else in life, you will get out of this what you put in. If you're making an honest effort, your instructors will notice. Attitude plays a big role in success at Nuke School. Some of my most memorable students were the ones who were constantly one exam failure away from being academically dropped from the program, but they never gave up and they did what they had to do to get through.


When did your daughter get to Power School? I taught Chemistry/Materials/Radiological Fundamentals until November of 2014 when I retired. What subject does she teach?
Tim Bates said:

My daughter is an instructor in the power school. She is a chemical engineer. They work hard to get the kids thru the courses. If your daughter hasn't been to boot camp yet, she will go thru A school then power school. A good knowledge of math (calculus and trig ) will make things easier. The hardest thing for these kids to deal with is the pace of instruction and the rigid rules they must follow. IT is the hardest Navy school. The instructors teach only what classified material the Navy requires to excel at their jobs. What TJ says below is accurate. No material leaves the building, no cellphones in the school.

My son is a Nuke on the GHW Bush.  He said there is the "Navy Way" of teaching and tht it was like drinking from a firehose.  Obviously, he made it so your daughter can to.  I told him to seek help if he needs it and to offer help if he could and that seemed to work pretty well.

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