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cadet blogs


(Overcoming Challenges, The Cadet Experience, Class of 2014) Permanent link   All Posts
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.