Alumni Spotlight: Andrew Mueller

Andrew Mueller
LT, USN
Mechanical Engineering Department
United States Naval Academy

LT Andrew Mueller has served as a mechanical engineering military instructor at the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) since spring 2014.  He teaches two sessions of introductory thermodynamics to junior/senior non-engineering majors.  “At the US Naval Academy, nearly every graduate can expect to have to at a minimum, stand watch in a ship propulsion plant. They need to understand what is going on in the engine, and to make adjustments as necessary. Even the English majors,” he explains.  The USNA does offer options for humanity majors, but they need to take engineering courses as well, leading to a B.S. in English, for example, rather than a B.A.

LT Mueller’s other duties include mentoring midshipmen in STEM subjects, and serving as an organizer for the academy’s Capstone Day, which highlights the culmination of the student’s work with displays of special projects. Working in teams, seniors from all of the engineering departments undertake ambitious capstone design projects that have involved design, build, and demonstration/competition phases.

From College Park to a submarine

After his graduation from the University of Maryland with a Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering in 2010, where his research project was about the computer-based modeling of household energy consumption, LT Mueller went onto nuclear power submarine school in Charleston, SC, and followed with a tour on the USS Oklahoma City of Apra Harbor, Guam.  There, he met his wife after a holiday party when he and his friends hit the town in their dress uniforms.  Mae Precones had just arrived in Guam as well, and the rest is history.  The couple wed in 2013, and their lovely baby girl, Mariana, was born in June 2015.  

A USNA alumni himself, he chose the academy over a more traditional college because he wanted to do his part and serve his country.  He is part of a long line of military men in his family, and sought to carry on the tradition. However, after several years of active service, he says he is ready for a change and will in all likelihood make the leap to civilian career in summer 2016.  He’s looking forward to a working in the nuclear or energy engineering industry, or as a government contractor.  He plans, however, to continue to serve his country as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserves.

Locking in on the big picture

LT Mueller attributes his time at CEEE with helping him to hone his communication skills.  “My work at CEEE, especially by taking part in the Tuesday (student project review) meetings, really helped me understand how central articulate communication is for an engineer,” he says.  He also explains that, a majority of the USNA faculty are civilian instructors with PhD’s, and due to the nature of the academy’s mission of training officers, focus more on teaching technical competence than research.  If a CEEE graduate wants a career in academia, and loves student interaction, the USNA may be a great place to consider.

And, his advice to current CEEE students, “At CEEE, I made the mistake of getting bogged down in number crunching,” he said.  “My reason for joining the CEEE was that energy engineers have higher calling, to help the environment.  Appreciate what you’re doing,” he advises.  “Don’t lose sight of the importance of your work.”

Profile photo compliments of the United States Naval Academy.

Family photo shared by the Mueller family.