Boilermaker Bubblehead

Name: Megan Maloney
Major: Nuclear engineering
Year: Senior
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Making history: In summer 2011, Megan will be the first female Purdue graduate to join the ranks of an elite group of women. In April 2010, the U.S. Department of the Navy announced that women will be allowed to serve on submarines and, after an extensive selection process, Megan was selected for training. She already has completed one-and-a-half years of nuclear training in New York and South Carolina, and after graduating this May will be on the path to become a nuclear officer. “I feel very lucky to be chosen to lead the way. When I was first told I was going submarines I went through a range of emotions, but now I am very excited and realize I am just going to have to handle the challenges as they come.”

Course correction: Megan didn’t always know she wanted to pursue nuclear engineering. She completed one year of veterinary medicine at Michigan State before enlisting in the Navy. “I knew I didn’t want to live with my parents forever, so I just went into a recruiting office and they said the Navy was for the best and brightest, so I signed up.” Hard work and enthusiasm paid off during her initial training and Megan was selected for a program designed for outstanding sailors to become officers after receiving a college education in only three years. Megan’s interest in nuclear engineering led her to Purdue. “I had a list of 14 universities I could choose from and Purdue, with the best engineering school and nuclear programs, was the obvious choice. It was also a plus that it was the closest to home.”

The path is set: Unlike most college seniors, Megan knows exactly what her future holds after graduation. She will go back to New York and South Carolina to operate nuclear reactor systems and prepare for onboard emergency situations. Her ultimate goal is to work on a submarine based in Bangor, Washington. “Joining the Navy may have been a spur of the moment thing for me, but I haven’t regretted a minute of it. I’ve met amazing people, lived in a lot of really fun places, and learned more than I could have anywhere else in the same amount of time.”

Diving deeper: When Megan is not learning about nuclear reactors and training for disasters, she enjoys snowboarding and backpacking, and she hopes to go west for spring break. She also enjoys listening to The National and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

By Sarah Showalter