Staying busy in the summer: Academy fills season with cadet events

Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost (U.S. Air Force photo)

Brig. Gen. Andrew Armacost (U.S. Air Force photo)

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY. Colo. -- The crowd of proud families and newly-minted second lieutenants had barely cleared Falcon Stadium after the May 28 cadet graduation ceremony when Dean of Faculty staff got back to work.

Many wonder what we do during the summer; I can tell you, we do not take a three month summer vacation.

If the Dean of Faculty staff isn't using their well-earned leave during the academic year, they might be participating in a diverse collection of cadet programs, including Basic Cadet Training, Deployed Operations, Cultural Immersion and flying.

The summer provides an opportunity for cadets and staff to go deeper into an academic study, hone their military skills or broaden their professional experiences.

A good percent of the Dean of Faculty's and staff's time this summer is allocated to teaching summer classes, preparing for the coming academic year, updating courses and reviewing curricula.

Many cadets take academic courses during the summer to lessen the demands of future semesters or focus on a single course. In fact, 579 cadets are taking advantage of 21 academic courses offered this summer.

To prepare for the 2014-2015 academic year, faculty attend or oversee development workshops and course design retreats, such as one our directorate of education co-sponsors with Regis University, where Academy faculty review learning-centered educational practices.

Many faculty members attend conferences and seminars to prepare for courses they will direct or teach this fall.

Maj. Mark Bushy, for example, is participating in a National Endowment for the Humanities seminar, "View from the East: The Federal Government and the American West," at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. This prestigious seminar will prepare him to direct the "History of the American West" course here this fall.

Summer is when our focus on research heightens. Our 20 academic departments and 21 research centers and institutes are busy supporting hundreds of cadets and faculty researchers at local and international organizations and government agencies.

The Academy is ranked the No. 1 federally funded undergraduate institution with a research budget of $64 million -- $56 million of which comes from external Defense Department and nonfederal organizations. Research is critical to cadet education, faculty development and ensuring we're addressing DOD needs.

The Academy has 171 cadets going to more than 80 different organizations for internships and research this summer.

Cadet 1st Class Samuel "Lou" Posey is currently conducting research at the Oklahoma Medical Research, where he had direct implications to warfighters by studying genetics of wound repair and scar tissue.

Cadet 1st Class Marcelli Magday is at the Colorado Springs headquarters for Spectranetics researching how lasers can to clear artery blockages without damaging tissue.

A Political Science Department faculty member, Capt. Evan McKinney, is in Finland researching the Finnish perspective and policy towards Russia's strategy in Europe, while Lt. Col. Mario Serna and Maj. Christina Dugan, both from the Physics Department are at Los Alamos National Laboratory conducting nuclear detection research. These examples illustrate how faculty and cadet research spans the spectrum of academic disciplines.

Two other summer programs offering opportunities for Dean of Faculty staff are the Cultural Immersion Program and Cadet Summer Language Immersion Program, managed by our International Programs Offices. The Cultural Immersion Program provides cadets experiential learning opportunities and a chance to gain first-hand knowledge of another culture.

This summer, CIP has five faculty members escorting 31 cadets to five different countries. Maj. Angela Henderson, Foreign Languages Department, and Capt. Monica Herrera, Behavior Science and Leadership Department, are escorting 15 cadets in Israel, sponsored by the Olmsted Foundation and Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs.

The officers will then escort four cadets to Washington, D.C., New York and Poland as part of the Auschwitz Jewish Center American Services Academies Program to learn about the Holocaust. Thirteen faculty members also support CSLIP and will escort cadets to 10 countries.

The Cultural Immersion Program gives cadets an opportunity to enhance their foreign language skills by traveling abroad. The 128 cadets participating in this year's program will meet with Air Force attaches and other officers who are also studying a foreign language.

Another reason faculty members are eager for summer is that the cadet summer training programs provide opportunities for faculty to be more involved with training and leadership development outside the classroom.

Many active duty Dean of Faculty staff augment Basic Cadet Training staff, serve as associate Air Officers Commanding, teach honor and commissioning education lessons or facilitate military training.

Dean of Faculty members also augment the Deployed Operations program, which sends cadets to overseas Air Force bases, allowing them to experience deployed life.

The faculty members are escorting cadets to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait. The cadets complete the same deployment requirements as Airmen and shadow Airmen from various career fields.

Twenty-five faculty members are also supporting training at the Field Engineering and Readiness Laboratory in Jacks Valley. Managed by the Civil and Environmental Engineering Department, FERL provides engineering students experience in surveying, construction methods and materials.

Right now, 57 cadets and six U.S. Naval Academy midshipmen enrolled in FERL are simulating living in a deployed environment in field conditions in Jacks Valley. They're tasked with creating a crater and runway, temporary housing, an air conditioning unit and an aircraft resting system.

Their work benefits the Southwest Indian Foundation, an organization FERL has a long-standing partnership with, as the Hogan homes cadets build during FERL go to the Navajo community in Gallup, N.M.

We could not be the Air Force Academy without flying, and the rated officers in the Dean of Faculty take full advantage of the opportunity to put in more hours at the airfield during the summer supporting the Powered Flight, Jump and Soaring programs.

Many rated faculty members log more than 50 percent of their annual flying time during June and July.

Summer also allows Dean of Faculty staff to devote more time to outreach programs.
Summer Seminar is one of the largest Academy outreach programs, bringing in more than 600 high school seniors to experience Academy life.

The program gives participants a solid understanding of the challenges and rewards of cadet life and insights into what it means to serve as an Air Force officer.

More than 60 Dean of Faculty staff members are directing workshops for Summer Seminar, highlighting the academic majors and research projects available to cadets.

As you can see, our operations tempo remains high throughout the year, and active duty staff party have no shortage of obligations to fill their duty days in the absence of teaching classes.

I do, however, highly encourage our staff to take time off to recharge and spend with family because August will be here before we know it.

Regardless of their activities, our faculty inspires cadets by creates immersive and integrative experiences representing the essence of the Academy.