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AIM 2018 Wrap-Up

by Stefanie Senkow
August 1, 2018

AIM 2018 Wrap-Up NEW LONDON, Conn. -- “AIM has been one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences of my life,” said Brooke Thomas of Overland Park, Kansas, who graduated the Coast Guard Academy’s summer program, the Academy Introduction Mission (AIM), this summer.

AIM gives high school juniors a chance to take the Academy for a “test drive” as they live the life of a cadet for one week. From drills to marching, squaring meals and grueling physical fitness challenges, along with academic group activities, this year’s AIM program was nothing short of a success.

New this year was the engineering project which focused on applying practical problem-solving skills to real 21st century Coast Guard challenges. Students built a dipole antenna and searched for working radio transmitters to simulate situations where natural disasters impact communication channels. They also completed drone courses to decipher encrypted messages for Coast Guard drug interdiction missions and explored wave energy by creating a mock-up to simulate harnessing electricity from buoys.

And, of course, there’s the boot camp portion of AIM—the drilling, marching and, yes, the yelling. The rising second class cadets of the Academy, also known as cadre, shape the “AIMsters” into sharp and well-disciplined young adults and the yelling, believe it or not, is their way of showing that they care about each and every AIM participant.

“The objective of the yelling is to create what we call artificial stress, to see how the students can perform under a stressful environment,” said Second Class Cadre Riley McNulty. “When you’re out in the fleet you could be dealing with a ship going down, a man overboard and many other factors all at once and you have to perform regardless.”

But despite the long, limit-pushing days, the in-your-face boot camp and physical demands under the blazing summer sun, students praise the program’s positive effects as they leave the Academy a transformed individual with new friends.

“My cadre shaped me to be an “AIMster” that never leaves and never gives up. These are the types of lessons that you will learn ONLY at AIM,” said Mark Austria of Guam.

“I have noticed a change in myself for the better. I give more respect and have more confidence in myself,” said Jennifer Donohue of Hanover, PA. “And the friends you make are the people who you will stay friends with for a lifetime, who will always have your back. Just like the Coast Guard, you cannot do any job or task successfully without those type of people.”