Written by Petty Officer 2nd Class Lauren Laughlin
“Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” – Albert Einstein
This April, the Coast Guard Academy hosted more than 30 of the service academies’ brightest cadets and midshipmen for the 2018 Service Academy Student Mathematics Conference.
During the conference, students from the Coast Guard Academy, U.S. Military Academy, U.S. Naval Academy and the U.S. Air Force Academy present their senior research project to an audience of their peers.
Not only do their projects fix real world problems using math, the students benefit from exposure to the research areas of other students, enriching their mathematical background.
Research topics include environmental engineering, propositional word problems, organ transplant, cyber terrorism, hockey, physical fitness, the male rape myth, stock market, the brachistochrone problem, redesign of the force structure model, cutter operations, aircraft inventory costs and training assignments.
“For their capstone problems, the Coast Guard Academy cadets differ from the other service academy students because they are given Coast Guard centric problems from operational units,” said Cmdr. Ryan Hamel, an instructor in the ORCA program. “Each year we solicit problems from operational units then assign the problems to our ORCA teams. The cadets are solving problems that relate to the Coast Guard and can help the Coast Guard.”
The Operations Research and Computer Analysis major provides graduates with a background in mathematics, statistics, and computers. The primary focus of the ORCA major at the Coast Guard Academy is to enable cadets to conceptualize and describe reality using the tools of mathematics and statistics, develop appropriate models, derive solutions using computer technology, apply the solutions to specific Coast Guard and other real world problems and to effectively communicate solutions.
While the ORCA major emphasizes the practical application of mathematics, statistics, and computer techniques to “real world” problems, the central thrust of the program continues to be the understanding of mathematical concepts. In addition to courses concentrating on the tools of operations research, the Department of Mathematics offers numerous other courses covering the fundamentals of mathematical reasoning and analysis. Use of the computer as a tool in the analysis of data is essential to the major. The graduates have a strong background in computer programming as well as experience utilizing a number of software packages including Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Minitab, ProModel, and Mathematica, along with other statistics, forecasting, optimization, and simulation packages.
ORCA applications abound in the Coast Guard and every other complex organization. They are present in resource allocation decisions, policy analysis, equipment replacement determinations, personnel assignment processes, tactical operational decisions, and nearly every facet of Coast Guard operations. Within every complex organization, and particularly in the Coast Guard, the tools of Operations Research are absolutely necessary for continuous improvement and effective decision-making.
Capstone Senior Design Projects allow students to gain real world experience during their final semester. Each student group takes on a Coast Guard operations research problem and provides solutions that will have a substantial effect on the service. Some examples of Capstone Projects are:
• Fast Response Cutter Home Port Analysis
• Analyzing U-boat detection methods during WWII to simulate and make recommendations to improve the Coast Guard’s search for self-propelled semisubmersible vessels carrying narcotics
• Using optimization techniques to create aircraft patrol patterns for fisheries enforcement in the New England area
The Coast Guard Academy ORCA projects presented at the 2018 SASMC are:
Redesign of the Force Structure Model
By First Class Cadets Geremy Kendrick, Ed Pond, and Matt Huemme
The Force Structure Model (FSM) was created for the Coast Guard in 2001 and is used to forecast the effects potential changes to the billet structure of the enlisted workforce have on an enlisted member’s time in grade (TIG). The model provides decision makers estimates of these impacts on TIG through a combination of analysis of historical data and Markov chain forecasting. The FSM is contained in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet and can be accessed by any Coast Guard member on the Coast Guard Portal website. It has been edited and changed over the past 17 years with minimal documentation or commenting. This work analyzes the inputs, outputs, and processes in the model. Modifications to the TIG historical analysis and ideal TIG were made in order to improve the accuracy of the model. Further, commenting and documentation are provided to facilitate understanding and future maintenance by CG-126, the Coast Guard’s Office of Strategic Workforce Planning and Human Resources Analytics. Lastly, the user interface of the workbook is updated and improved to allow for easier use and better interpretation of the proposed effects.
Advisor: Dr. Eric Johnson, Lt. Cmdr. Mary Bender, and Capt. Melinda McGurer, Coast Guard Academy Department of Mathematics
Data Analysis of Cutter Unstructured Operational Summaries
First Class Cadets Alex Murdoch, Michelle McGill, Alec Groff, and Tara Strauss
Operational Summaries (OPSUMs) are daily reports completed and transmitted by every underway cutter in the Coast Guard to their respective operational command. OPSUMs are mission summaries that contain a vast amount of unstructured data. The Office of Requirements and Analysis (CG-771) desires to extract data from OPSUMs for analysis. The raw unstructured data from the OPSUMs must be put into a structured format. First, effective code is written to extract and structure the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star OPSUM data for fiscal years 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. Second, relevant analysis is conducted on the structured data. From the OPSUM data, engineering casualties, communications system status, and fuel usage will be analyzed. Third, testing is done to verify code flexibility to other Coast Guard platforms and mission summaries.
Advisor: Dr. Katherine Krystinik, Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan Harris, and Capt. Melinda McGurer, Coast Guard Academy Department of Mathematics
Disaster Response Aircraft Inventory Cost Analysis
First Class Cadets Lexi Laboy, Maral Toukhanian, Darius Adams, and Matt Grose
The purpose of this project is to give the U.S. Coast Guard Aviation Logistic Center a better understanding of what helicopter parts demonstrate a surge during a natural disaster. This project analyzes hurricane data from past Coast Guard natural disaster response to first identify if a correlation between surge operations and an increase in parts ordered exist. Then determine the type and number of parts ordered during surge operations, which quantifies the surge in terms of budget. Finally, determine the most important parts to preemptively stage in a natural disaster area. All of the data analysis methods used Excel.
Advisor: Dr. Janet McLeavey, Lt. Cmdr. Jarrett Parker, and Capt. Melinda McGurer, Coast Guard Academy Department of Mathematics
Where Should We Patrol?
First Class Cadets Ray Zhang, Ryan Dandan, Sawyer Stanton, and Stephane Meboung
This project examines the expansive fisheries information warehouse collected and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Coast Guard as a means to facilitate the work of the Coast Guard First District Enforcement Branch (D1 (dre)) as they enforce domestic fisheries law on U.S. flagged commercial fishing vessels. The overall objective is to analyze this large data warehouse and derive processes, through tools such as ArcGIS and Microsoft Access, that may indicate anomalous fishing activity and assist mission managers of D1 in determining which fishing vessels may warrant further law enforcement action, and ultimately where to geographically deploy Coast Guard assets.
Advisor: Cmdr. Ryan Hamel, Lt. Cmdr. David Ratner, and Capt. Melinda McGurer, Coast Guard Academy Department of Mathematics
Finding Saturated, Stable Matches for 3/c Summer Training Assignments
First Class Cadets Dana Rohde, Daria McKenna, Vicky Talens, and John Groen
Each summer the Coast Guard Academy Cadet Training (CT) branch assigns 3/c cadets, or sophomores, to operational Coast Guard units across the country to complete an 11-week summer training program. Finding an optimal solution that avoids any justified envy involves all cadets providing a complete ordinal preference list. The CT branch could then assign each cadet to their highest ranked assignment that is available. By defining a summer training assignment by its characteristics, the number of assignments to be ranked can be reduced by using K-modes clustering and a farthest distance initialization heuristic. A complete ordinal preference list with ties can be obtained by cadets ranking these clusters.
Advisor: Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Williams, Dr. Zachary Kudlak, and Capt. Melinda McGurer, Coast Guard Academy Department of Mathematics
Concerning Behavior vs Mission Readiness Dashboard
First Class Cadets Tim Letarte, Olivia Calabro, Madeline Chafin, and Matt Statkus
Personnel are the greatest assets within the Coast Guard, and they are the foundation of the mission readiness of the service. There are many concerning human behaviors that affect Coast Guard personnel. Like the other armed services, the Coast Guard uses various personnel surveys as a tool to measure the status of its greatest asset. This capstone project provides analysis of the 2011 Human Resource Behavior Survey taken by Active Duty service members. Visual exploration of the data, logistic regression, and classification trees are methods used to identify the possible relationships between concerning human behaviors and individual survey questions. Additionally, the Goodman-Kruskal Tau measure of association, as well as the Chi Square Test of Independence are used to explore possible relationships among the concerning human behaviors. The methodology employed in this work can be extended and applied to similar survey data sets. The results of this work serve as mathematical insight to inform senior leaders in the policy making process.
Advisor: Lt. Cmdr. Meghan Steinhaus, Lt. Dana Dougherty, and Capt. Melinda McGurer, Coast Guard Academy Department of Mathematics