NORFOLK, Va., –
An Elk Grove, California native received a Black Engineer of the Year Award (BEYA) during the virtual BEYA science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) conference, Feb 12.
Lt. Cmdr. Derik Rothchild, the Moored Training Ship La Jolla (MTS 701) engineer officer, was recognized as a 2021 Modern-Day Technology Leader, an award given to those who demonstrate achievement, leadership and impact.
“Derik routinely demonstrates a resolve to accomplish the mission while also developing his Sailors,” said Cmdr. John Smith, La Jolla’s commanding officer. “He has a special ability to build camaraderie and positively influence personnel to aspire as leaders and advance personally and professionally.”
The award recognizes African-American scientists and engineers around the country who are shaping the future of STEM, while promoting diversity and inclusion.
“I was filled with pride to be recognized on such a prestigious stage,” said Rothchild. “It means my efforts in leading my team to the best of my abilities did not go unnoticed.”
After graduating from high school, Rothchild enlisted in the Navy in 2001 to pursue higher education. Upon completion of training as a nuclear machinist mate, he received orders to USS Louisville (SSN 724). He was then accepted into the United States Naval Academy as a member of the class of 2009, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry and received his commission as a submarine officer.
Rothchild credits his success at the Naval Academy to prior experiences and training at power school.
“If it weren’t for my previous training at Naval Nuclear Power School, I would have greatly struggled through the higher order math and science courses at the Naval Academy,” said Rothchild. “The exposure I had in calculus, physics and chemistry helped to bridge the gaps in my knowledge.”
As a Navy engineer officer, Rothchild says his job is similar to a nuclear power plant site manager, holding responsibility for the operations, maintenance and material condition of a nuclear power plant, while leading and mentoring a technical staff of over 550 personnel.
“My favorite part of my job is serving as a mentor and developer of nuclear power operators and submariners,” said Rothchild. “Assisting others in their personal and professional goals is always rewarding, and I am proud of the members of my team who continue to chase excellence.”
Rothchild acknowledges the military for making great strides to provide a diverse and inclusive atmosphere.
“I believe representation is extremely important to the facilitation of a conducive environment where people can manifest the best of their abilities,” said Rothchild. “One day soon, every young person in America will be able to enter the Navy and see a face that reflects their own.”
Rothchild wants to inspire a new generation of Sailors to take advantage of the short-lived opportunities in life.
“Always be ready to jump through the window of opportunity,” said Rothchild. “Be proud of yourself and the obstacles you overcame to be who you are today. Nothing is out of your grasp.”
The mission of the Submarine Force is to execute the Department of the Navy’s mission in and from the undersea domain. In addition to lending added capacity to naval forces, the Submarine Force, in particular, is expected to leverage those special advantages that come with undersea concealment to permit operational, deterrent and combat effects that the Navy and nation could not otherwise achieve.
The Submarine Force and supporting organizations constitute the primary undersea arm of the Navy. Submarines and their crews remain the tip of the undersea spear.