Saturday, November 30, 2013

From Fordham to the Naval Academy

A few weeks ago I was chosen along with three other undergraduate students to represent Fordham at the 2013 United States Naval Academy Science and Engineering Conference in Annapolis, Maryland.  Over four days, 120 undergraduate students from 28 different colleges and universities participated in this conference.  The three focus areas of this year’s conference were Renewable Energy and Alternative Fuels, Cyber Space and Security, and Health and Sustainability.  We attended lectures from guest speakers with expertise in these areas, and we also heard from Dr. Arati Prabhakar, the Director of Defense Advances Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Honorable G. Wayne Clough, the 12th Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, and the Honorable Kathryn D. Sullivan, the Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting NOAA Administrator.

Before the Secretary of the Smithsonian's presentation
Each student chose one of the three themes of the conference to focus on, and we were split into small groups based on our choices.  Between the lectures, we met with our groups in order to discuss the challenges associated with our specific topic.  We then isolated one particular challenge and created a presentation about our proposed solution to that challenge.  I chose to focus on Health and Sustainability, and my group decided to address waterborne illnesses in third-world countries.  Our solution included a mobile health clinic and an education center to train the locals in prevention and treatment techniques. 

During breaks between sessions, we were able to tour the Naval Academy and interact with some of the Midshipmen.  I especially enjoyed watching Noon Formation, where all the Midshipmen line up before lunch.  We also participated in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) challenge where we built a device to launch a ping-pong ball at a target ten feet away.  My team tied for first place!   

My team's catapult for the STEM challenge

I had a wonderful time at the Naval Academy, and I want to thank Fordham for covering my travel expenses so that I could attend this conference. 

Noon Formation
View from the window of an academic building

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