Tuesday, July 11, 2017

USNA Flag Aide Prepares for Service in Space

By MC2 Brianna Jones

Lt. Kayla Barron, currently serving as flag aide to U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Walter E. Ted Carter Jr., was recently selected by NASA to join the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class.

Photo courtesy of NASA

An "astronaut candidate" is an individual selected by NASA to undergo a candidacy training program at the Johnson Space Center. The 2017 class of 12 astronaut candidates were announced June 7, 2017.

Barron is the 54th USNA graduate to be selected for the astronaut program.

"I think at the heart of my interest in the astronaut program is that it appealed to my adventurous, pioneering spirit," said Barron.

A Richland, Washington native, she graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2010 with a Bachelor’s degree in systems engineering as a member of the first class of women commissioned into the submarine community.

Immediately upon graduation, Barron attended the University of Cambridge on a Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, graduating with a Master’s degree in nuclear engineering before heading to Naval Nuclear Power Training Command for training. She then completed a tour on board USS Maine (SSBN 741), an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine.

“After a couple of years working on the submarine, I knew I really enjoyed working in that environment," she said. "I got to learn how to operate on a team of highly-functioning people in a resource-limited environment, where the consequences of our decisions really mattered.”
Barron said that although she has always had a passion for science and exploration, the astronaut program is a fairly new goal for her.

“When I was exposed to the astronaut office a few years ago, I started to recognize all of the parallels between what we do on submarines and what our astronauts are doing on the international space station,” said Barron. “I think that was the moment that it clicked.”

Barron will report for duty in August 2017 to begin two years of training. Upon completion, she will be assigned technical duties in the Astronaut Office while she awaits a flight assignment.

According to a NASA press release, the new astronauts could be assigned to a variety of future missions, including performing research on the International Space Station, launching from American soil on spacecraft built by commercial companies, and departing for deep space missions on NASA’s new Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System rocket.

Friday, June 30, 2017

USNA's STEM Program Hosts Baltimore Youth

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The United States Naval Academy's Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) office hosted 60 Baltimore students during its Summer Heroes Youth Program (SHYP) at USNA.

The students visited USNA for day trips to participate in a number of physical activities and STEM workshops facilitated by midshipmen, staff and faculty.

SHYP highlights what an institution like USNA can offer and hopes to foster interest in higher education in STEM fields among younger students.

“Being from Baltimore, I felt like I almost had a responsibility to participate and show the students that there are kids who come out of the city and attend amazing institutions like USNA,” said Midshipman 2nd Class Dante Daniels, lead midshipman liaison for SHYP. “I’m excited to be able to share my experience, to help inspire them to continue down a great path and value their potential.”

The eight-day program hosted students attending Fort Worthington Elementary, Baltimore IT Academy, Hampstead Hill Academy, AFYA, North County Elementary, Guilford Elementary, Waverly Elementary, Roland Park Elementary and Middle, Vanguard Collegiate Middle, Montebello Elementary and Middle Schools. Parents could drop off students at pick-up points throughout the area including the Y at Weinberg. This collaboration with the community allowed the USNA STEM Center to double the capacity of students for SHYP.

"The community, parents and teachers put a lot of effort forward to help us host this many kids, and the students reflect that,” said Professor Sarah Durkin, USNA STEM Center associate director. “The students are so enthusiastic, we’ve even heard they run to the bus in the mornings.”

The partnership with Baltimore Schools and the STEM program helps emphasize coordination and team-building exercises.

“We think SHYP gives them confidence and strong self-image,” said Professor Angela Moran, Volgenau Chair for education and outreach and STEM Center director. “We see them learn how important communication skills, critical thinking and teamwork are to solving problems.”

While the students learn, create and experience the USNA atmosphere, the midshipmen participating are also given some of their first opportunities in leadership.

“We have about 30 midshipmen who are helping to facilitate," said Durkin. “It’s really a win-win as most of them are entering their second year at USNA, and are given some of their first opportunities to be mentors.”

The STEM Center’s annual impact includes the work of 60 faculty and staff members and 300 midshipmen, organizing 70 events. Through approximately 24,000 midshipmen volunteer hours, the STEM Center reaches out to 13,000 Students, 900 teachers and 150 informal educators from across the country. For more information about USNA’s STEM Center, visit: https://www.usna.edu/STEM/index.php

Thursday, June 29, 2017

USNA Inducts Class of 2021

The U.S. Naval Academy welcomed the 1,215 men and women of the incoming Class of 2021 during Induction Day June 29.

I-Day marks the beginning of a demanding six-week indoctrination period called Plebe Summer, during which civilian students are indoctrinated into military life.

This indoctrination period is meant to help plebes develop discipline, honor, self-reliance and organization. These attributes will provide them with the foundation they will need to be successful midshipmen and throughout their military careers.

"Today, for you, is a day of transformation," said USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter. He talked with both the new plebes and their parents about the legacy of the U.S. Naval Academy and naval service in general.

"It's a remarkable history, and their journey is just starting," he said. "I look forward to watching your sons and daughters grow, not just over the summer, but in their midshipman career and their future Navy and Marine Corps career."

The new class includes 888 men and 327 women - making up 27 percent of the incoming students.

Among the new plebes are 15 international students from 14 countries: Egypt, Georgia, Honduras, Madagascar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Mongolia, Palau, Panama, Peru, the Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand.

Sixty-one of the incoming plebes are prior-enlisted personnel, 50 from the Navy, 10 from the Marine Corps, and one from the Army.

On I-Day, the new plebes receive uniforms and military haircuts, undergo medical evaluations, learn to render a salute and complete their registration.

Each plebe receives a copy of "Reef Points," a 225-page handbook of information about the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the Naval Academy's history and traditions, their administrative chain of command, and the general orders of a sentry. The new midshipmen are required to memorize approximately 1,000 facts outlined in the book.

I-Day concludes when the midshipmen take the Oath of Office in front of their family, friends and new classmates during a ceremony in Tecumseh Court. After the ceremony, plebes say goodbye to their families who will not see them again until Plebe Parents Weekend, Aug. 10-13.

With the conclusion of I-Day, Plebe Summer officially begins. During this time, plebes start each day at dawn with mandatory physical training. The remainder of each day is packed with drills and instruction on the military lifestyle and more physical training. The plebes are allotted minimal leisure time.

During these six weeks, the plebes are led and trained by upper-class midshipmen. Instruction includes seamanship, boat handling, navigation and small arms training.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Mids Tour Fenway Park

Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsman, and Naval Academy midshipmen participate in a tour of Fenway Park. The amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) and more than 50 tall ships from around the world are participating in Sail Boston 2017, a five-day maritime festival in the Boston Harbor. (Photo by MC2 Jordyn Diomede)