Story by Chief Petty Officer Karen Rybarczyk, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command
GULFPORT, Miss. – A U.S. Navy Seabee and Pryor, Oklahoma native is one step closer to realizing his dream of commissioning as an officer in the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps (CEC) after becoming the first active duty Sailor accepted into the CEC Collegiate Program.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Pilmaier’s journey began in 2016 while serving as a construction mechanic assigned to Naval Construction Group 2 in Gulfport, Mississippi. After deciding to use his off-duty time to pursue higher education, Pilmaier began taking courses at Mississippi State University as a mechanical engineering student.
Pilmaier’s inspiration to focus his studies in mechanical engineering stems from his fond memories as a student at Pryor High School in Pryor, Oklahoma where he was a 2014 graduate.
“Every single time I had to take a math course, it just brought me back to my high school years whenever I used to love math and people would always come to me for help with math,” said Pilmaier. “It’s always been one of my strengths.”
After completing two years of studies, Pilmaier became eligible to compete for selection into the competitive collegiate program. As part of his acceptance, Pilmaier will receive an average of $3,938 per month (E-3 base pay, housing and sustenance), and will retain his full medical and dental benefits while he completes the final two years of his degree as a full-time student.
The CEC Collegiate Program is an opportunity for students completing the last two years of an accredited engineering or architecture degree to go to school full time while receiving active duty pay allowances. The program was originally designed to offer civilians or enlisted military members who had separated from the service a route toward becoming a naval officer but changes now allow active duty personnel to apply directly to the program, retaining their current pay while still serving on active duty as an officer candidate. Service members then owe a four-year commitment of active duty service, plus four years inactive reserve.
Once Pilmaier completes his degree, he will attend Officer Candidate School and CEC Officer School before reporting to his first command as a CEC officer.
Members of the Navy’s Civil Engineer Corps, commonly referred to as Seabees, provide engineering and construction support to Navy, Marine Corps. CEC Officers make up a just 2% of all naval officers, approximately 1300 personnel, and serve throughout the world working in contract management, facilities management, and expeditionary engineering.