Things Change

By lex, on August 4th, 2011

When I was a midshipman at the US Naval Academy, I was one of those 20% who opted to become “bull” majors, studying political science rather than math and science to my later regret. Other bull options were English, economics and history. The school’s intention was that each midshipman have a solid grounding in core technical studies, and it wasn’t until my senior year that I had more majors courses than otherwise. I don’t know how many other schools required their poly sci majors to take two semesters of electrical engineering to go with physics, differential equations, chemistry and thermodynamics.

That’s not to say that a bull major graduate could not go on to have a moderately successful naval career. I feel that I did, although I was forced into a fair amount of autodidacticism along the way.

The school’s goal was to graduate 80% of its students in the “hard” sciences, mathematics and engineering. Flying aircraft, and steaming ships and submarines requires a solid technical background, as does leading the sailors who actually get greasy up to their elbows doing the real work of maintaining and operating the equipment. Those kinds of problem solving skills are typically developed in science, technology, mathematics and engineering courses.

Things have changed:**

The U.S. Naval Academy is narrowly on track to meet a directive to graduate 65 percent of its officers in the class of 2013 with degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, the school’s academic dean and provost said Wednesday.

The academy is only able to estimate the number because the directive only applies to students who will be commissioned as naval officers, not Marines who also attend the school.

“It’ll be close, but we won’t know for another year,” said Andrew Phillips, the school’s academic dean.

Benchmarks for the number of technical majors in the Navy have varied over the years. In the early 1980s, the academy was required to have 80 percent of its students graduate with technical majors. Later that decade, the number dropped to 70 percent. In the 1990s, Navy leadership dropped the requirement that a specific number of graduates have those technical degrees.

Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the academy’s superintendent, noted the re-established benchmark in an annual review of the school year published in the July-August issue of Shipmate, the magazine of the academy’s alumni association.

“We are striving to increase STEM major graduates to 65 percent for all future classes,” he wrote.

Any guesses as to why the requirements have shifted over the years?

Because I haven’t a clue.

**  11-01-2018 Original link gone; replacement found – Ed.

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Filed under Best of Neptunus Lex, Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Carroll LeFon, Lex, Navy, Neptunus Lex, USNA

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