Miami and NROTC Set My Career Path: Video Transcript

Russ Starkey (Miami, 1964) [retired as Vice President for USEC, Inc.]: When I spoke to the Physics Department's students and faculty, I was really focused on what's available out there for physics majors. I was a physics major as an undergraduate, but, as I told them, I haven't solved a partial differential equation in 40 years. But it gave me a technical basis from which I could, frankly, choose to go a lot of different directions.

The Navy chose the direction for me, because I went from Miami right into the Navy's nuclear power program. So, I went through the Navy's nuclear officer training program, which is fundamentally a nuclear engineering program, for a year, and then some additional training and then on to submarines. I spent the next 10 years riding submarines in the Navy.

After that, with the nuclear engineering training provided by the Navy, the nuclear experience provided by the Navy, and the technical background provided by Miami, I decided, What am I going to do with the rest of my life? And from that point, I decided to go into the civilian nuclear power industry, because at that point, which was in the mid-70s, it was growing like crazy—all kinds of opportunities. The rest, as they say, is kind of history. From that point on, I spent the next 35 years either in power generation facilities or uranium enrichment facilities, and had a very rewarding and challenging career.

But it was a combination of the ROTC stuff and the major in physics that really set my career path. I didn't know it at the time, but it really set my career path going forward, and I'm very, very grateful for both experiences.

[April 2011]