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When the USS Montpelier (SSN 765) returns late this fall from its South American deployment, 13 officers onboard the submarine will be more than halfway through a master's of engineering management degree, thanks to two new programs at Old Dominion University.

The submariners will be the first to receive Navy-funded graduate courses via a CD-ROM pilot program with the university. While underway, the students will gather at a regularly scheduled time to watch the pre-recorded instruction from Old Dominion engineering faculty on one of the submarine's large-screen displays. Additionally, the officers will have access to laptop computers for self study and will interact with professors via e-mail.

During the deployment, students will complete two courses toward the degree - "Cost Estimation and Financial Analysis" and "Quality System Design." When the submarine returns, officers will continue with an additional four CD-ROM courses during maintenance and at-sea periods.

Specifically geared toward Navy personnel, the program incorporates normal Navy organization and material management activities into the case studies of the curriculum.

"We're really excited to jointly participate with Old Dominion University in this unique education project," said Cmdr. Ron LaSalvia, Montpelier's skipper. "It's one of the best ideas I've seen come to the waterfront."

Coupled with Old Dominion's recently established program granting 12 credits toward master's degree programs in the university's College of Engineering and Technology to graduates of the Navy's Officer Nuclear Power School, the CD-ROM pilot program allows the USS Montpelier officers to complete a master's degree in about a year.

"Old Dominion is certainly pleased to jointly develop the first full degree program available to operational submarines via any means, as well as the Navy's first complete CD-ROM degree program," said retired Navy Capt. Dick Whalen, Old Dominion's director of military activities. "It fits in directly with the university's continuing support to the military community and we are optimistic that this new education initiative will soon be expanded throughout the Navy nuclear power officer community."

The pilot program is administered by the Middlesex Research Center of Landover, Md., which coordinates the delivery of education programs worldwide under the Navy College Program for Afloat College Education (NCPACE).

This article was posted on: July 27, 2000

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