Dan Dorman ’83 was the first Webbie to join the Navy’s Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program while enrolled at Webb — and the last one to interview with the late Admiral Rickover! Dan served in the NUPOC program during his junior and senior years, drawing a Navy paycheck that more than covered the cost of his Webb education.
Upon graduation, he was commissioned through Officer Candidate School and received over a year of nuclear power training before reporting aboard the fast attack submarine USS Richard B Russellwhere he spent more than three years. Before resigning his commission in 1991, Dan qualified in submarines and earned subspecialty designations in nuclear propulsion operations and joint intelligence operations. Since leaving the Navy, Dan has spent over 20 years in civil service at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), where he is currently Deputy Director of the Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards.
At the NRC, Dan has been engaged in some of the most significant regulatory actions of the period. Following the 9/11 attacks Dan led an interdisciplinary team of engineers and scientists from the NRC and several national labs analyzing the potential consequences if an attack of a similar nature were to target a commercial nuclear power plant. The results of these efforts led to substantial safety and security improvements at nuclear power plants throughout the United States, and Dan served as a principal agency spokesman in sharing the insights with nuclear safety regulators throughout the world.
After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Dan was one of the senior NRC leaders deployed to Tokyo to support the U.S. Ambassador in ensuring the safety of U.S. citizens in Japan and to provide advice and support to the government of Japan as they worked to stabilize the damaged Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. He then served as a member of an NRC senior level task force to examine near-term lessons learned from the Fukushima accident. These efforts are in their early stages, but promise to bear fruit over the next several years to further ensure that such an accident does not occur in the U.S.
Dan attributes his career success to the breadth of the engineering education he received at Webb, supplemented by the leadership example of great mentors in the Navy. Apart from nuclear reactors and celestial navigation, everything the Navy threw at him — from OCS through qualifying as Engineer Officer of Navy nuclear propulsion plants — had already been covered at Webb. On the boat, he was the go-to guy for training new junior officers on ballast, stability, and especially metacentric height! At NRC, the general engineering background of the Webb education has continued to serve him well as he has moved around NRC in power reactors, engineering research, nuclear security, and nuclear fuel fabrication.