The need for professionals who can both operate and work on highly technical platforms is fundamental to the 21st century Coast Guard. Coast Guardsmen armed with a background in STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – are the future operators, inventors and designers behind systems that will be standard across the service. One place where STEM is taking center stage is at the United States Coast Guard Academy.
Below is a personal account from Cadet 1st Class Cassandra Hawley on her journey to win the Arthur L. Williston Award, which encourages young mechanical engineers to apply their knowledge by writing a paper dealing with the problems and solutions of current topics in the area of civic service. Read how Hawley’s tough classroom assignment led to national recognition.
Written by Cadet 1st Class Cassandra Hawley.
It all started as an assignment for my Mechanical Engineering Mechanisms class during the spring semester. It was a huge project broken into three different papers, with a fourth and final paper that would combine the first three into one.
The three assignments were to define the current modes of personal transportation around the world and what the problems are with each. Secondly, the paper would present alternate modes of transportation (i.e. hybrid electric vehicles, fuel cell vehicles). Lastly the paper would describe a solution with a breakdown of each component and research to support it.
The top two final papers in the class would be submitted to the ASME Arthur L. Williston Writing Contest. I honestly did not see potential for my paper to even be considered out of all my classmates to be submitted to this prestigious national contest. I did not believe then that my forte was writing, nor do I still, which is why I thought becoming an engineer was perfect for me. Little did I know then of the volume of writing I would encounter with my chosen major. Needless to say, I was dreading writing a five-page paper each week for a month straight.
Sometimes I think of all the things the Coast Guard Academy and people along the journey have taught me and I am truly grateful. One thing is that sometimes you have to do things you do not want to, or may even dread doing, and that keeping a positive attitude and putting on a smile while doing it usually helps.
Before coming to the academy, I learned that hard work pays off, and have seen it happen again and again since being here. I have also learned you can never stop, no matter how much life throws at you, and that asking for help is not a weakness but a strength that will help you go farther in life.
As the arduous, painful process of writing began, the checklist grew smaller after each submission. For each submission I asked more questions and sought out more help.
Soon the final paper came and I spent upwards of an hour discussing my paper with Dr. Carla Egelhoff. I turned in the final paper and within a couple days, to my surprise, I had been selected as one of the two students to submit my paper to the national contest. I sat down again with Dr. Egelhoff for final advice and submitted a finished product to the national contest.
On the morning of my final exam for mechanisms class, I checked my mail and to my surprise found a thick envelope from ASME. You could not find a more shocked and grateful recipient to win the Arthur L. Williston Writing Contest.
This would not have been possible without the support and inspiration from Lt. Cmdr. J. Rozzi-Ochs and the help and guidance I received from Dr. Egelhoff, Dr. Ron Adrezin and Cmdr. David Clippinger. I thank them for all they have done for me and for their dedication in developing young professional engineers and Coast Guard officers.