DAHLGREN, Va. – Marine. Fighter pilot. Astronaut. Musician – the dreams and goals of a young boy. And now the career path of one Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) employee appears to have come full circle.

Raised in a military family, it was only natural for NSWCDD Strategic Targeting Communications Analyst Andrew “AJ” Rasure to want to follow in his father’s footsteps and join the military. As a child, Rasure and his father would watch rocket launches and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron, and he knew he wanted to be a part of that in some way.

During high school, Rasure formed a passion for music, and the trajectory of Rasure’s career path changed when he auditioned for – and was accepted into – the United States Marine Band.

After 10 years, he was medically retired and found himself at a crossroads: find a way to continue with music, or circle back to the physics that enthralled him as a child? While the fighter pilot and astronaut options were now off the table, the possibility of supporting the military through physics was still an option.

The dictionary defines physics as the branch of science concerned with the nature and properties of matter and energy. This is what Rasure knew he wanted to do. He enrolled in classes at the University of Mary Washington and double majored in mathematics and physics – a degree that he finished in just three years.

With the guidance and support of advisors at the university, Rasure participated in research projects such as up-converting nano particles, unmanned aerial vehicle detections through acoustic methods and electron reference rotational frames that caught the eye of many recruiters. As graduation approached, Rasure began the tedious process of searching for a job.

It turned out to be an easy decision. After attending an open house at NSWCDD, he was impressed with the attitude of the NSWCDD employees that he spoke with and the workforce development opportunities available.

“When I talked to the folks at Dahlgren,” Rasure said, “they let me know that they had programs available that would allow me to further my education and at the same time contribute to existing or upcoming projects at NSWCDD.”

Rasure is thrilled that he is now using his education to continue to support the military. “I went into the Marine Corps for an opportunity. They gave me the opportunity to get my education, and I’m using that education to support the military now. It’s a win-win situation.”