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cadet blogs

70-25-5

(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link
Capuzzi Photo While most of you reading this post are confused by the title, anyone intimately familiar with the Academy would understand it straightway. It is the breakdown of the Military Precedence Average, or MPA. The MPA is the number that determines class rank at the Academy, which ultimately leads to where you will spend the first two years of your career as a Coast Guard officer. 70% of the MPA comes from the academic portion of the Academy, aka your GPA. 25% is based upon your military performance as documented in your Cadet Evaluation Reports. The final 5% stems from physical fitness scores at the beginning of each term.

 

The best way for me to describe the fall 2013 semester was a war between the 70% and the 25%. On the academic side, I am a Naval Architecture/Marine Engineering (NAME) major. Up until this semester, my classroom time had been spent learning the key principles of engineering and taking classes such as Statics, Dynamics, Mechanics of Materials, Materials Science, Fluid Mechanics, and Thermodynamics. Well, nearly all of those fundamental engineering classes disappeared this semester, which, if you didn’t know any better, sounds fantastic. But what replaced them was even scarier: design classes. The NAME firsties were all divided into design groups at the beginning of the year and assigned capstone design projects, the manifestation of all we had learned (or where supposed to have learned).

 

BMy group was assigned to design a containership to carry containerized cargo from Shanghai to New York via the soon to be expanded Panama Canal. It’s a really awesome project, but it’s very heavily involved. The first part of the semester consisted of researching containerships, designing a hull, and ensuring stability and survivability. The second part was spent filling that hull with living quarters, engineering spaces, cargo holds, and tanks, ensuring everything could fit and the ship would float. At the same time in a tandem design class, we were selecting, fitting, and integrating a propulsion system into the vessel. Both of these classes involved countless hours of calculations and important choices, and each class had a weekly paper due to summarize steps of the design process. On top of that, we had the rest of our classes. Needless to say, many long hours were spent in McAllister Hall.

 

On the military side of the house, somebody decided it would be a good idea to make me a company commander, responsible for running one of the eight companies that make up the Corps of Cadets. I was responsible for the transportation and public affairs of the corps, the material condition of the company wing area, the military performance of personnel in the company, leading the company for events like drill and inspection, and keeping the chain of command informed about the company. It was no small task. Fortunately, I was surrounded by great people, both up and down the chain of command, and they provided me all the support I needed to get the job done.

 

It was a tough semester, and there were definitely some low points. I earned some low grades on papers. I was chewed out for not running the company properly. But for every bad moment, there were at least ten great moments. Our containership design impressed the president of a major shipbuilding company. The company achieved the best scores in a uniform inspection. And throughout the semester, I learned a lot. Whether it was about containerships or leadership, it just goes to prove that the 70-25-5 formula is the ideal recipe for producing the future leaders of the United States Coast Guard.

 

 


More about Nick.

 

Almost There…

(Choosing the Coast Guard Academy, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2017) Permanent link
Mayer Photo …to the end first semester, to my 19th birthday, to Christmas Break. I have one final left; it’s tomorrow and I already studied for it and am very confident I will do very well.

 

So, looking back at my first semester I can honestly say I often tried too hard and also didn’t try hard enough. I often over-thought things and would stress myself out when trying too hard, and later in the semester just stopped trying quite often which had the same effect, but with a bit less stress. My advice: don’t stress over things but do your best. Don’t be scared, this first year is the year to make mistakes and learn from them. Everyone is very nice and wants to help. Even your cadre, they seem mean and I am still intimidated by many upper-class, but no one should be. Respect them of course, but don’t fear them, they are only a little older than you, and some are the same age and occasionally younger. Initially I wasn’t very social, so I encourage everyone to be, to get to know your classmates within your company and in other companies. Alone time is good, too. Make sure you have some ways you can easily let go and de-stress, I can promise you there will be times you need to be able to relax and won’t have much time. The first year is all gen ed classes, so you may hate them all. I hope you know that ahead of time and can do your best to learn from them, even if you hate that class. If it isn’t for your GPA, or for even learning’s sake, enjoy classes somehow for your sake and everyone else’s so that you aren’t upset and moody all day because of what everyone has to do. Instead find one or two classes you do like and you can at the very least look forward to those and help others, too.

 

Oh, and you should learn to play an instrument. Band is great. Windjammers is fun, can be irritating, tiring and boring at times, but the trips made it worth it for me. Plus I learned a new instrument. You don’t need to know how to play, just please, if you enjoy music, join. But, if you don’t know, come to a practice to see if you might like it. If you know you’d hate it and would be grumpy the whole time you were participating, don’t join because the point of a sport is to have fun, and yes Windjammers is a sport. There is also Concert Band and Jazz Band when Windjammers ends and that is even better in my opinion because everyone, EVERYONE, wants to be there and it’s completely voluntary.

 

Almost There... (Continued) 

 

Settling In: Second Semester

(Just for Fun, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2016) Permanent link
Stowes Photo After two awesome weeks of leave, it’s that time of year again. It’s time to come back to the Academy and start preparing for the second semester. I think I speak for most of the corps when I say that we all wish we had more time off, but in reality leave was long enough.

 

I had a fun break. I got to go home and see all my friends, see my cousins in Arizona, and I even got to celebrate my birthday and the New Year in Las Vegas. Even though I’m under 21, Las Vegas has awesome stuff to do for people underage. I saw three different shows and visited the Hoover Dam. Then, New Year’s Eve was awesome. I heard that 330,000 people had flown into Las Vegas to celebrate the New Year. On New Year’s Eve, the streets were totally packed. It was a struggle to walk through the masses of people, but just being there to take it all in was worth it. At midnight, I was standing in front of the prestigious Caesar’s Palace Hotel and the Bellagio. Then, all of the hotels started launching fireworks. It was amazing. I could spin around and see fireworks in every direction.

 

On January 1st, I heard about the massive winter storm headed for the East Coast so I had to leave Vegas a day early to get home ahead of the snow. Luckily, I was able to get back to my home in Massachusetts before many of the flights to the Northeast were cancelled. Some cadets were not so lucky, and they are stuck waiting for flights back to the Academy for a few more days.

 

When I got back to the Academy yesterday, I wasn’t too excited about physically being here, but I was very happy to see my friends again and to hear their stories from leave. Luckily, we don’t launch right into classes as soon as we get back from leave. At the beginning of each semester, we have a week dedicated to academic and professional development. This week is the “Midyear Administrative Processing” week or MAP week for short. MAP week is a great time compared to the rest of the semester. Throughout each day, we have a variety of trainings and meetings, but no academics. Each class meets with the Superintendent, Assistant Superintendent, Commandant of Cadets, Assistant Commandant of Cadets, and their class advisor. Individually, cadets meet with their academic advisors, division members, and so on. Additionally, we take our physical fitness exam, have sports practices, and move rooms. MAP week is great because it’s the ideal time to get everything non-academic taken care of before the semester begins.

 

 


More about Hunter.

 

End of my Fifth Semester

(The Cadet Experience, Class of 2015) Permanent link
Meyers Photo Wow, it's been five semesters already. As I wind down the semester and get ready to take my last final tomorrow before going on break, I am taking a look back on 2013 and everything I've done. I'm pretty amazed. In the past year alone, I've been to five amazing concerts, traveled to Colorado for spring break, made a lot of new friends (and lost a few old ones), gotten a gold star all five semesters I've been here (with a term GPA of 3.15 or greater), been cadre and an MAA, sailed around New England for two weeks, and got air lifted into a helicopter. I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff, but those are what I can think of off the top of my head.

 

With five semesters down and three to go, I'm seeing the world a little differently now. It's not “how much longer until I get to leave”, but “how much longer do I get here”. It's not at all that I'm not excited to go out into the fleet, I'm beyond excited to start my career as a Coast Guard Officer and really work. It's more that I'm realizing how special of a place the Academy is and that I have to make the best of my last three semesters. Every semester has had a sort of “motto” to it that has guided pretty much everything I do. I think for this next semester my motto is going to be “work hard, play hard.” Don't worry, I'm not going to play too hard and get in trouble. I mean to say that I want to work hard on school work on the weekdays and make the best of every weekend. While I'm 21, that does not mean going out and drinking with my friends every chance I get. It means experiencing life to the fullest, sometimes stepping out of my comfort zone to experience something new.

 

Now, I don't only have great things to look forward to, but great things to look back on. This has been a great year, and I'm sure next year will be even better.

 

 


More about James.