Physics 645: P215 (3) / (2F) = formula for success

Maj. Thomas Jost leads cadets through a core physics class at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 16. As cadets learn about Newton's laws of gravitation, they also learn valuable lessons about determination and perseverance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Arnie Spencer)

Maj. Thomas Jost leads cadets through a core physics class at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., Jan. 16. As cadets learn about Newton's laws of gravitation, they also learn valuable lessons about determination and perseverance. (U.S. Air Force photo/Arnie Spencer)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Physics 215 is a course listing that sends shivers down the backs of Air Force Academy cadets. We are required to pass the course whether we want to take it or not. Whether we are Foreign Area Studies or Electrical Engineering majors; Physics 110 and 215 are in the core curriculum and cadets must take these credits in order to graduate. 

Physics 215 was my Waterloo: I took it three times ... really, I did. 

I like to think of myself as among a select few who have completed the Physics 645 (215 x 3) course. And I can tell you what I thought every time I failed a graded review or missed points on a homework journal: "Why do I need this!? I'm never going to use it!" Indeed, I am confident when I speculate that many other 215 victims thought that same thing every day they entered and exited the classroom. 

Having finally completed my Physics "645" course, I have answers to my questions (I am that foreign area major I mentioned earlier). Not to knock the Physics Department, but I should caveat that: I don't believe I will need the physics I "learned," but I do think I need the lessons in life I learned over the course of that class. 

I learned how to fail, how to persevere, how to learn something for which I have no aptitude, and how to humble myself and ask for help. These lessons are invaluable.
In the Air Force, we will all encounter complex tasks, difficult times and blows to our pride. It is during these times when I will recall what I learned in physics and I don't mean why an electron moves the way it does. 

Maybe the rumors are true that the Physics Department has taken it upon themselves to weed out cadets. I am certain however, we, as cadets, must learn to raise ourselves up and learn how to fail in order to learn how to truly succeed. Physics "645" taught me that.