Thursday, February 16, 2017

U.S. Naval Academy Hosts Dinner Honoring Future Marine Corps Officers

The Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps visited the U.S. Naval Academy Feb. 16 to participate in a service assignment dinner and reception at Dahlgren Hall honoring the Class of 2017’s future Marine officers.

Gen. Glenn M. Walters addressed 267 first-class midshipmen who were selected for service assignment in the Marine Corps. Walters spoke about new implementations of platforms and technologies, but insisted the Marine Corps’ most valuable assets are the young men and women who lead Marines into combat.

"You are our real competitive advantage," said Walters. "The young men and women who are trained in an institution like this, who will raise your hand in one hundred days, are our greatest advantage. You are our center of gravity.”

Senior leaders from the Marine community and academy faculty celebrated the heritage, responsibility and camaraderie the midshipmen will inherit as members of the Corps.

“The opportunity you have that lies before you is an opportunity of a lifetime,” said Commandant of Midshipmen Col. Stephen Liszewski. “It is the chance to live a life of substance and a life of consequence. I am excited for your future, and even more than that, I am excited to serve with you in our great Marine Corps in the years ahead.”

The Naval Academy Class of 2017 received their service assignments in November. As they get closer to graduation, they have the opportunity to celebrate their future service with their peers and mentors during the annual community dinners.

“It feels great to have an event like this,” said Midshipman 1st Class Kerri Haller. “Everyone is here to help us and give us guidance. All of us are starting a new career path, in a new service, and this welcoming support makes the transition much easier.”

“It’s really quite an honor to be here with all of the current and future Marine aviators of my class,” said Midshipman 1st Class Cori Caggiano. “It feels like a culminating event that really celebrates everything we have been working towards the past three and a half years.”

After graduation, the newly-commissioned second lieutenants will head to the Basic School in Quantico, Va. to prepare them for duty as company grade officers in the operating force.

“Here at USNA, we have the rare and amazing experience to have leadership from the communities we are entering teach and guide us throughout our time here,” said Midshipman 1st Class Elizabeth Field. “Even tonight, we have the opportunity to speak with some of the highest-ranking officers who hold the job or position that we could possibly have one day. It’s a very humbling experience.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Spring Semester Brigade Commander Encourages Midshipmen to “Be Worthy”

No one was more surprised than Naval Academy Midshipman 1st Class Isabel Krause when she was selected for the brigade commander position for spring semester 2017. 

"There are people at this institution who are very amazing, who are ten times more qualified than I am for this billet," said Krause. "I'm fortunate most of them are on my staff so I get to work with those people every single day."

A self-proclaimed "Navy brat," Krause has lived in a lot of different places, so claiming a hometown is complicated. She graduated high school in Naples, Italy. Her parents - both '93 grads - now live in Davidsonville, Maryland. Her father, Cmdr. Jeff Krause, is a naval aviator currently working with Foreign Area Officers at the Pentagon.

Though the daughter of USNA alumni, she never seriously considered attending the academy until her junior year of high school. She had always been attracted to military service, but thought she wanted to do something like the Reserve Officer Training Corps and attend a civilian college.

"I grew up surrounded by people who dedicated their lives to service, but I didn't think that path would take me to the Naval Academy. I thought I wanted something different. I was wrong."

She's grateful she made the decision. 

"This place is amazing," said Krause. "Everybody's very like-minded. Everyone really buys into the bigger picture. Everybody's driven to be a part of something bigger than them. That binds us all together."

The experiences and relationships she has built here make for a special connection between her classmates, she said.

Only about six weeks into the job of running the brigade staff (which in turn runs the entire 4,400-strong Brigade of Midshipmen), Krause has already learned a lot about practical leadership.

"Learning how to empower my regimental commanders" has been an eye-opening experience, she said. Understanding how to motivate people with very different leadership styles themselves has been an interesting challenge for her. 

"How you deliver tasks or how you deliver your vision to different people is going to get you different results," she said. "It's probably been one of the coolest things so far about the job."

Krause, a systems engineering major with a minor in Spanish, always expected she would be an aviator, but after spending time in the submarine community during summer cruise, she changed her mind. She found the same drive that attracted her to the Naval Academy among the officers and enlisted on the submarine and was hooked. 

"The mission and the people are 100 percent exactly what I'm interested in."

She'll start her career by attending Nuclear Power School after graduation this May with the goal of becoming a submarine officer, but until then she has a big vision for the brigade. Her overarching theme for her peers is "Be worthy." She wants to encourage other midshipmen to not just put the checks in the box to get to graduation but to actively develop themselves into future leaders.

There are three areas of focus she emphasizes: integrity in all things, by which she means not just do the right thing, but hold others to a higher standard; 360 degree leadership, which means providing leadership up and down the chain of command and also to one's peers; and ownership, being all in.

"Inspirational leadership shouldn't just come from a first class midshipman," said Krause. "You can inspire your peers as well. A lot of times people think inspirational leadership is only top-down."

In addition to serving as the highest-ranking midshipman this semester, Krause keeps herself busy as a member of the USNA Gospel Choir and as a high jumper on the Women’s Track Team. Her younger sister, Victoria, is a member of the Class of 2018, currently studying abroad in Spain.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Brigade Boxing: MIDN 3/C John Makiling

The 76th Annual Brigade Boxing Championships will take place Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall. We reached out to the midshipmen involved in this year's boxing program to get some insight into the lessons boxing provides them as future officers.

MIDN  3/C John Makiling, competing in the 165-lb division: "Boxing is a way of life. Everyone fights for some type of success in their own way. I love boxing because it gives me a simulation of combat that I will encounter in my military career. I hope to inspire others to battle anything with perseverance, determination, and heart. It has developed me by instilling discipline through training and the willingness to win during a fight."

As part of the academy’s physical education program, all midshipmen are required to participate in boxing, and boxing is also offered as a club sport at the Academy. The boxing team participates in invitational competitions in the fall and spring, as well as in ongoing intramural bouts. The Brigade Boxing Championship showcases the most elite midshipmen boxers, each performing in three-round matches within their weight class.

Friday, February 10, 2017

USNA Hosts Annual Astronaut Convocation

By MCSN Kaitlin Rowell

The United States Naval Academy hosted its annual Astronaut Convocation Feb. 9 in Alumni Hall.

This year’s theme focused on the future of human space exploration to Mars. The Brigade of Midshipmen had an opportunity to engage in a panel discussion with four USNA graduates who went on to become astronauts and leaders in field of space exploration.

The panel members took turns discussing various topics including NASA’s role in commercial space travel, as well as speaking to the midshipmen about the importance of their future roles as military leaders.

“You will be wearing the uniform of the most powerful military in the world,” said retired Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden Jr. (USNA '68), former NASA administrator. “You’re training to lead it. You’re training to lead young men and women who have to believe in you. You learn something here in your core values training that is not just words; it is really important. You are the leaders of the world and people look to us wherever we go.”

Capt. Chris Cassidy (USNA '93), chief of the NASA Astronaut Office, spoke about the training cycle NASA uses for preparation and the how crews assigned today are the ones that will be performing missions beginning in 2019.

“It takes about two and a half years of training to get to the point of launch,” said Cassidy. “Much like a pre-deployment work up cycle that we all experience or you guys will experience in the Navy.”

Capt. Michael Lopez-Alegria (USNA '80), and Capt. Bruce McCandless (USNA '58) also sat on the panel. Additionaly, eight more of the Naval Academy’s 53 astronaut graduates were in attendance.

The annual astronaut convocation is designed to provide a unique and valuable interaction for the midshipmen as they look ahead to their own careers.

“I’ve been interested in space for a long time,” said Midshipman 4th Class Brendan Finn. “I thought it was really neat hearing the different perspectives from each of the astronauts, especially since each had a different job at NASA.”

Air Boss Welcomes USNA’s Future Naval Aviators

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) held its annual aviation community assignment dinner and reception Feb. 8 at Dahlgren Hall.

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker (USNA ’82), commander, Naval Air Forces, addressed 310 first-class midshipmen who were selected to serve in the Navy aviation community about the status of current and future platforms and the state of naval aviation.

"Across our community, there is no better time to be a naval aviator," said Shoemaker. "There are plenty of opportunities to fight, fly and lead.”

Shoemaker emphasized that the training the midshipmen received during their four years at the Naval Academy will prove to be the backbone of their careers.

"The principles you have learned here, the work ethic you have developed and your commitment to something bigger than yourself will guide you and sustain you in the fleet," he said. "I have every confidence in each and every one of you.”

Senior leaders from the naval aviation community – including Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of Naval Operations; Vice Adm. Joseph Rixey, director, Defense Security Cooperation Agency and Vice Adm. John Aquilino, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Operation, Plans and Strategy – joined representatives from aviation commands worldwide to celebrate the midshipmen’s choice to fly.

“I’m excited that I get to hear about other officers' fleet experiences,” said Midshipman 1st Class Olivia McQuade, class of 2017’s highest ranked naval flight officer selectee. “It really helps put us in a mindset of what to expect after graduation. It’s an in-depth look at the community we are joining.”

The Naval Academy Class of 2017 received their service assignments last November, marking a milestone that puts them one step closer to joining the fleet and Marine Corps as commissioned officers.

“It’s really quite an honor to be here with all of the current and future aviators of my class,” said Midshipman 1st Class Scotty Davids, class of 2017’s highest ranked pilot selectee. “It feels like a culminating event that really celebrates everything we have been working towards the past three and a half years.”

After graduation, the newly-commissioned ensigns will head to Pensacola, Fla. for flight training.

“When you take in our Marine Corps brothers and sisters, there are over 400-strong that will go into naval aviation from your class,” said USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter. “Over 40 percent of your class will wear naval aviation wings of gold. Congratulations on your choice. The future is bright.”

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Attending the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing

In October, three midshipmen and one professor from the U.S. Naval Academy joined approximately 14,000 women and 1,000 men from more than 80 countries at the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, in Houston, Texas.

MIDN 2/C Hanna Urbaczewsky, MIDN 2/C Svetla Walsh, and MIDN 3/C Sarah Barkley all earned scholarships to attend the event, together with Assoc. Prof. Adina Crainiceanu from the Computer Science Department.

“I had a phenomenal experience,” said Urbaczewsky, a computer science major. “Attending this conference improved my confidence as a leader and as a woman studying computer science. While the sessions were not designed specifically for military leaders, I was able to take away many of the lessons and apply them to my career as a future naval officer.”

Named for computer science pioneer RDML Grace Hopper, this event brings together people from across the computer science community for three days of technical talks, career mentoring, networking, and recruiting.

“The Grace Hopper Conference was one of the most empowering and informative experiences I have had during my short tenure in the field of computer science,” said Barkley. “I was able to attend a number of relevant and poignant panels on current technological innovations such as machine learning, as well as further discussions on being a woman in this traditionally male-dominated industry.”

The conference included a large expo, featuring hundreds of companies and organizations spanning all levels of industry, government, and academia. The list of keynote speakers at the conference included Ginni Remetty, IBM’s president and CEO; Dr. Latanya Sweeney, Harvard professor and director and founder of Data Privacy Lab; and Megan Smith, chief technology officer for President Obama’s administration.

“Going to the Grace Hopper Conference only inspired and pushed me to take on challenges that the tech field offers. It is where I observed and learned how an idea can become a reality with code and that data is the ‘new fossil fuel of the 21st century,’” said Walsh. “I am excited for the future of technology and want to continue to be part of the forefront of pushing the boundaries of what being able to program allows us to do. Grace Hopper's influence has definitely inspired me to not back down when faced with a programming challenge.”

Prof. Crainiceanu said that attending Grace Hopper Celebration is one of the most empowering and exciting events for women in computing.

“Seeing thousands of women in computing, all in one place, hearing about their accomplishments, attending the talks, energizes you and gives you a sense of community,” she said. “I hope that USNA will continue to support midshipmen and faculty attendance at this wonderful event.”

RDML Hopper received her PhD from Yale in 1934 and her commission in the Navy in 1943.  Her contributions to computer science were immense, influencing computer scientists even today.  Perhaps her biggest contribution was the creation of the compiler, which greatly eased the work needed to write software, opening programming up to a much larger community of developers.  After a career featuring several congressional and presidential exceptions to mandatory retirement, RDML Hopper was awarded the Defense Distinguished Service Medal and retired for the final time in 1986.  On November 22, 2016, RDML Hopper was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  She is the namesake of the Naval Academy’s new cybersecurity academic building, Hopper Hall.

Monday, February 6, 2017

USNA Debate Team Hosts Annual Tournament

The Naval Academy Debate Team recently hosted its 58th annual debate tournament, now called the Crowe- Warken Debates, in Annapolis.

Boasting more than 250 attendees from 27 different universities across the country, the tournament asked college students to debate the following resolution: “The United States Federal Government should establish a domestic climate policy, including at least substantially increasing restrictions on private sector emissions of greenhouse gases in the United States.”

The tournament is named after Admiral William J. Crowe, who founded the debate team as a midshipman in 1946 and whose estate is one of its significant donors, and Dr. Phillip Warken, who was the director of debate at the academy for 35 years, from 1964-1999.

The varsity division was won by the University of Georgia’s Johnnie Stupek and Nathan Rice, who beat Cornell University in the final round.  The junior varsity division was won by Liberty University and the novice division was won by George Mason University.  Navy’s junior varsity team of Midshipmen 3rd Class Campbell German and Andrew Yu participated in the quarterfinal round. Navy’s team captain Midshipman 1st Class Alex Mueller and the rest of the squad provided logistical assistance to attendees.

“The University of Georgia has always enjoyed participating in the Crowe-Warken debates, and this year was no different. We've been lucky enough to enjoy some success in Annapolis over the years,” said University of Georgia Assistant Director of Debate Hays Watson. “It's a wonderful place, a wonderful tournament, with wonderful competitors.  We're excited to defend our title next year.”

Navy’s debate team has had a successful season with multiple elimination round appearances, including novice finals at Georgia State University and junior varsity semifinals at the University of Miami.  They will round out their season with appearances at James Madison University, the District Seven NDT Qualifier, the American Debate Association National Tournament at George Mason University, and, if they qualify, the National Debate Tournament at Kansas University.