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The Actor

(Extracurricular Activities and Faith-Based Involvement, Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo Not much going on around here… it’s been a pretty typical start to the semester with new classes, new divisions, etc.! Since there’s not a lot of news, I thought I’d rock the blogging boat a little bit and share some of the writing that I’ve talked about before. So, here is “The Actor” (an appropriate one as I start rehearsals for the fall musical!). Enjoy!


Eyes of glass illuminate a face locked in a dream.
A world, only a feet few beyond,
Seizes his soul and holds him.


A barrier stands, a wall unbroken.
Lights shine through the impenetrable invisibility,
Catch the glass,
Ignite the spirit that crosses the ground,
Slips back into him
Bringing new life to share.


Who is this man
Who wears a suit of personality
Sewn by hand in recitation,
Pinned into shape with actions and motion?


Colors bleed from the wall
And soak the stage,
Darkness recedes,
Flaming words and sparks leap from his eyes -
They melt the barrier.


He rises.


Fixed upon him, shapeless faces outside of his world
Grope for a flicker of the man hidden
Beneath the actor.


More about Abby.


A Winter Wonderland 2016

(Just for Fun, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Glick Photo The Dark Ages, as they are commonly called, are upon us. Despite the limited daylight, I’ve been finding things to keep myself entertained during the cold months here at the CGA. This Friday night, Hotel Company, which is charged with Regimental Morale, has hired professional comedians to give stand-up routines in Leamy Hall. The comedians were previously featured on The Tonight Show and America’s Got Talent. Hockey games, basketball games, and morale events are myriad and there to give cadets something to do during down time. This coming week, the Corps of Cadets is heading to a downtown New London theater to watch a private pre-screening of the new major motion picture, The Finest Hours. This should be great—a chance to see the first movie about the Coast Guard since The Guardian, of which has produced many Aston Kutcher jokes and stereotypes about the Coast Guard. Maybe when I tell people that I’m in the Coast Guard they will ask me if I’ve seen The Finest Hours rather than The Guardian


In an effort to keep myself busy, I’ve been working out in Billard Hall’s renovated cardio gym. The newly renovated gym has a deluxe TRX layout, which reminds me of a grown-up jungle gym. I also recently signed up for a half marathon in March in West Haven, Connecticut! I’ve been running in Billard just about every day to prepare for the race.


More about William.


ORCA Explained

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Seaman Photo Hello! I recently had a prospective cadet email me with some questions about the Operations Research and Computer Analysis (ORCA) major, so I thought I would share part of my answer with anyone else who is wondering about it.


There are many classes specific to this major (mostly math). The major-specific classes I have taken so far are Multivariable Calculus; Linear Algebra; Differential Equations; Discrete Math; Linear Optimization; Probability Theory; Networks and Nonlinear Optimization; and Computer Modeling Languages. And I'm currently taking Information Systems, Mathematical Statistics, and Probability Models. I realize that might just sound like a bunch of words, but email me if you are interested in knowing what some of those classes are all about and I can go into more depth.


Aside from the major-specific classes, there are quite a few general requirements everyone must take throughout the four years. Major-related courses start your 3/c or sophomore year but a lot of times you can still switch majors during 3/c year because certain programs have a little overlap (many of the majors have to take Differential Equations, for example). Your 4/c or freshman year, everyone takes the same classes (Calculus 1 and 2, Chemistry 1 and 2, History, English, etc.). The purpose of that is to develop well-rounded people because, as officers, even if we are doing engineering jobs, the stuff we learned in English will help us in the fleet whether it is writing evaluations or something else. In addition, it allows you to see your strengths and helps with picking a major that is a good fit for you. Your 3/c year is when your classes are tailored to your major and then 2/c year is when you are really taking fun major-related classes. We also have to take general requirements throughout the four years. Those are classes like Physics, Navigation, Morals and Ethics, Criminal Justice, Government, and Maritime Law Enforcement. Everyone has to take Chemistry and Physics because every degree the Academy offers is a Bachelor of Science.


As far as ORCA goes, it is essentially all about using math and computers to make things more efficient, even with limited resources. Therefore, we take math optimization classes and learn how to program with Java to be able to solve certain problems that are brought to us. This major is very Coast Guard applicable since the Coast Guard performs so many missions, but also does not receive very many funds to do them. So an operations researcher would use their background in math and computers to schedule employees and distribute billets; allot aircraft to different stations; and find the shortest amount of time it would take a cutter to reach 10 buoys that need to be tended and go back to home port (important to save crew morale and fuel). In short, the application of the major is to find ways to maximize mission effectiveness and efficiency through logistics.


Your first billet after graduating is not major-specific; it can be attending flight school, serving as a student engineer or deck watch officer on a cutter, or working at a sector. Your billets afterward are really when you would start using your major. Also, the majority of officers go to grad school as well, so you could do a multitude of jobs in the Coast Guard or private sector depending on what your master’s is in.


I really hope this was helpful in answering any questions you might have had about ORCA. As always, if you have more questions, do not hesitate to email me.


More about Rachel.


Returning to My Roots

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Corbett Photo A common perception of military training is that everyone should fit into a mold. By the time we graduate, we should become the image of military excellence. This was a fear that I had before coming to the Academy, that I would be stripped of my core identity. I can tell you this is just a silly rumor in most cases. When I meet someone new, one of my first questions is always “what’s your story?” To which I typically get a look of confusion followed by “I don’t have a story.” Everyone has a story and it is important to realize what it is and hold on to it. Your story is what makes you unique; it is what makes you the person you are. A piece of my story that I always share is my love for art. Before becoming an Electrical Engineering major, I had taken zero, count ‘em zero, engineering courses. I did, however, max out the ceramics department’s program and the graphic design program, and did an independent study in ceramics with a focus on throwing on the wheel. So, why talk about this? Because it is important to know your story and return to it occasionally!


I lugged my potter’s wheel up to the Academy last semester hoping that I would have time to experience something other than the math and military-filled days. I, unfortunately, did not get the chance to reach back to that previous flame last semester and thus brought my wheel back home for winter break. While home, however, I bought myself 25 pounds of clay, fired up the wheel and day after day went back to what I did before the Academy. I sat for a lunch break with my mother most days in a disarray of clay-covered clothes and with dry hands. Among this chaos of an outfit was a smile though. I was at peace working with the medium.


The Academy can often fill our lives up and make it feel like we have nowhere to go other than the crevices inside the mold. It is important to realize that there is no mold except the one you make for yourself. Expand your expectations to be what you want and pursue what you want. I can sit here happily studying electrical engineering, but it does not mean I have to give up other things in my life that made me happy. Besides, at the end of the day, let’s face it; an engineer is an artist too, just with a different medium.


More about Shane.


Excited About My Research Projects

(Academics, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Culp Photo It’s been a while! I feel like I have a tendency to pull out the “I’m busy” excuse fairly frequently, as do most cadets here… but, I actually have been very busy keeping up with my schoolwork and extracurriculars during the last few weeks of the semester. This semester has been particularly enjoyable for me on the academic side because the focus of my major, Marine and Environmental Sciences, has started to shift from short-term objective assignments to larger, more time-consuming projects requiring much more critical thinking and analysis. Case in point, my project for Geospatial Sciences (a class involving a lot of map-making and working with computers). My partner Tasha and I took on a project with Mystic Aquarium to track the presence of beluga whales in New England waters. Belugas usually live much further up north, around the St. Lawrence River and other areas in Canada and Greenland. However, occasionally some swim down into New England. We wanted to see what, if any, environmental factors were influencing that behavior. We had to collect data from stranding networks, newspapers, blogs, etc. detailing any sightings of belugas, and plug those points into a map. Then, we worked with the MatLab programming software to import sea surface temperature and chlorophyll concentration data into the maps. Overall, the data collection process took most of the last half to three-quarters of the semester; it’s harder to locate this information and make it a compatible format than you might realize!


We put it all together, and made the incredibly important discovery of… no evident correlation between these factors and beluga presence. But, even if we didn’t answer all of life’s beluga mysteries, we did contribute to Mystic Aquarium’s mission, and that was pretty neat! There’s also the chance to keep working on this outside of the scheduled curriculum as an independent research project, which I’m planning on for next semester. In addition, I spent time this semester researching fish in the Thames River, which involved some trawling and seining action, and writing an extensive paper on the invasion of Nile perch in Lake Victoria in Uganda; again, both deeply involved and open-ended research opportunities. Meanwhile, I kept myself involved in the physics side of the department by working with one of the instructors on research of the magnetic fields produced by solar flares (or, in actuality, working out numerous bugs with the IDL programming language). These sorts of projects, and the chance to continue researching next year on my own, are really what made this semester such a blast for me. They demanded much time and effort, and often late nights, but some splendid products and opportunities came out of them. Plus, I just really get a kick out of being so focused on science. It makes me that much more excited for my classes next semester and for the new challenges that await!


More about Abby.