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cadet blogs

As October Comes to a Close

(Academics, Athletics, Class of 2018) Permanent link
Eshleman Photo The fact that October is almost over stuns me. This month has flown by. Between academics, fall ball lacrosse, and various singing groups, there is barely enough time in the day to get everything done that needs doing. My favorite class this year is Intro to Mechanical Engineering Design. Today, we finished working on our finger engines. The finger engine is composed of a flywheel, shaft, post, base, blades, lever, connecting rod, and crank. We made each of these parts out of aluminum or steel in the lab. The lab lasts for three hours once a week and the class is two times a week for an hour. In the lab, we get to use (for my first time!) lathes, mills, drills, horizontal and vertical band saws, and more fun power tools. It is by no means a boring class. Next week, we start making our unloader projects. We will work in a group for this project instead of individually. The planning process for the unloaders has been happening for several weeks, and now we get to make our plans and designs real. Hopefully, our designs will work to move rocks and pellets from one bucket to another with two degrees of separation.

 

Outside of academics, fall ball for lacrosse is coming to a close. We have a tournament this weekend, and then we start getting ready for the spring season with the strength training coach. Even in the last month, we have already started to work better together as a team as we get to know everyone more. For Glee Club, we had the Coast Guard Foundation dinner in NYC last week and go back to NYC for the Yacht Club dinner next week. Fairwinds (a girls’ singing group within Glee Club) finished working on a Mamma Mia medley, and I must say it is stuck in my head constantly, but I really love that we’re learning new music. As always, feel free to email me with any questions/stories/concerns/etc. Have a great day!

 

More about Hannah.

 

Decisions, Decisions

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo It’s midterms here at the Academy, which means staying up late writing papers, studying for tests, and catching up on homework. However, just like any other day, academic work is not the only thing on our minds. For firsties, the center of discussion is on ensign billets. Last week, we had morning training on the billet selection process, and I swear I have never seen more of my classmates awake and attentive during training than that morning. No one wanted to miss out on a critical date or any piece of information that might keep them from getting their dream billet.

 

I learned quite a bit that morning; however, I believe it can be boiled down to five important lessons:

 

  1. Be realistic in your selections. Our billets are determined primarily by our class rank. For co-location, the engaged cadets are assigned according to the lower class rank. To the number one cadet in our class, congratulations; that person is going to get his or her first choice unless there is some kind of extreme situation. For the rest of us, we have to determine which picks are realistic for us to get based on what the people above us in rank want. As a result, I have to talk to other cadets to see what they are selecting so that I can design a reasonable billet list.
  2. Everyone in our class wants the same billet. This is actually a joke lesson I have learned from talking to people in an attempt to gauge what people above me want for their first assignment. Apparently, no matter what I tell people I am interested in, at least 30 other people want it. If I am thinking about a buoy tender, tons of marine environmental scientists want the same thing. If I want flight… good luck (I don’t, luckily). If I want a fast response cutter (FRC) in South Florida, think again (this is actually what I want). I think this whole discussion is funny because obviously there are going to be a fair amount of people that want the same general units. There are nearly 190 of us commissioning and only so many billets.
  3. Advice should be taken with a grain of salt. A career path/unit that worked for someone else might not be the best fit for me. Everyone has different skills and preferences. I would rather do what makes me happy and worry about the career part later.
  4. There is no bad billet. I don’t think there is a single bad billet in the Coast Guard. Some of them might be less desirable, but we are a great service. If there are bad billets, it is because the command is not good.
  5. Needs of the service. Ultimately, our assignment may come down to needs of the service. I’m not bothered by that, though. I am happy to serve in the Coast Guard.

I have hinted at my ideal billet/career already. I want to go to an FRC, one of our brand new cutters. I want to go to South Florida because I want to be in the mix of all of the migrant and drug interdictions, as well as search and rescue missions. I will be happy if I get the FRC in Miami because I like the location there better than any of the other FRCs, but I would also be happy to get a different FRC or unit in Florida. My second choice is a ‘210 out of Florida. I say those two picks now as if I am 100% settled on them; I am not. I have so much more work to do asking questions of my mentors and professional resources. Luckily, there is no shortage of good advice in my life.

 

I am very excited and somewhat nervous to get started with my career. It should be awesome. We’ll see how excited versus stressed I am in five months when it is billet night at last…

 

If you have any questions, email me at Hunter.D.Stowes@uscga.edu.

 

More about Hunter.