Summer Internship At Lawrence Livermore

Article by MIDN 3/c Zachary Litwin

How should clandestine capabilities affect deterrence policies? Could supercomputer simulations replace nuclear testing? What do quantum mechanical models contribute to predictive theories of fission?

For over 60 years, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has answered questions like these. The Laboratory is the multidisciplinary conception of two physicists and was established during the Cold War to further nuclear research being done at Los Alamos. Its first major breakthrough was a warhead for the Navy’s submarine-launched Polaris missiles.

Today, the Laboratory’s focus on strategic deterrence and nuclear security continues. However, its mission has expanded to include many other research directions that change how America fights and wins. Over 40% of the scientists and engineers employed by the Laboratory hold Ph.D.s, and from the newest smart weapon to the world’s fastest supercomputer, Lawrence Livermore has it all.

To educate the next generation and preserve existing partnerships, the Laboratory hosts hundreds of undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate interns each summer. Among these visiting students are Midshipmen, Cadets, and Active Duty Officers from the Navy, Army, and Air Force. In fact, there is a program that brings in ROTC students as well as recently commissioned officers. Internships manager Barry Goldman explains, “LLNL is a Department of Energy (DoE), National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Defense and National Security Lab. As such, there is a lot we do that supports DoD. By providing support to researchers, ROTC [interns] learn about us and what we do for the military. We see this as a win-win for you and your careers and possibly for LLNL… You bring energy and motivation, and of course, you support the military.”

All interns either do a research project or support their assigned mentor’s research. Additionally, interns can choose to attend guest speaker events, seminars, and tutorials held on campus by experts from various agencies and universities.  Some research groups hold classes taught by experienced faculty for their interns.

The culture at the Laboratory is perfect for individuals who demonstrate initiative and a strong desire to learn and work alongside teams of experts. Over 1000 lab employees hold Ph.D.s., so interns learn something new every day. According to Barry Goldman, “students consistently count ‘mentorship’ as one big positive takeaway at the end of the summer.” Thanks in part to the lab’s historical and continued multidisciplinary employment structure, an intern or scientist’s background is leveraged in projects both within and outside of their academic discipline. For example, a computer science major could perform valuable work in both cybersecurity operations and life sciences directorates.

As a math major, I had an internship in cybersecurity at LLNL. During my time at the Lab, I completed an initial research project on a topic that my mentors were interested in exploring further. My mentors shared a passion for the topics that I explored, and they were eager to pass their knowledge and experience down to me. In particular, my senior mentor’s decades of experience at the Lab gave him tremendous context to explain the constitutional, legal, and policy issues surrounding cyber security. All in all, I had a great experience as an intern and would highly recommend the internship to anyone with an interest in the science behind the defense of our nation.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory boasts an impressive collection of user facilities (totaling $6 billion) and access to game-changing technologies hidden from corporate and public view, but its most valuable asset is its innovative culture and workforce. Just as it did during the Cold War, the Laboratory mixes academic research with practical applications to create asymmetrical advantages and solve future problems. Among the solutions that the Laboratory has provided are high performance computing simulations, chemical and biological warfare agent detection technology, and the foundations of the Human Genome Project.

At the lab, ROTC student interns and newly commissioned officers can make valuable contributions to defense and national security while learning about real-world uses of their field of study.

For those interested in an internship opportunity at LLNL, the deadline for resume submission is February 28th, but applying early is best. Midshipmen who plan to apply should reach out to me for advice on the application process.


Future Female Officer Club Meets with LT Colonel Ott USAF

fullsizerender-3Article by MIDN 4/C Aiden Schertz and Photo by MIDN 1/C Faith Huynh


In the last Future Female Officer meeting we had the great opportunity to talk to Lt. Col. Ott from AFROTC Detachment 365. Lt. Col. Ott started the meeting by summarizing her progression in the Air Force from when she was a cadet at MIT herself, to working alongside Gen. Mattis at CENTCOM, to becoming the Commanding Officer of her alma mater. It was clear that she had learned several valuable lessons through her diverse experiences which included flying F-16s and working in Korea, Tunisia, and Germany.


The topics that we discussed ranged from leadership challenges that females face in the military to the value of being a female in the military. Lt. Col. Ott offered some good advice on how to diffuse situations in which double standards may appear while remaining professional. We also discussed how the military differs from other organizations in its unique status as a pure meritocracy.

Lt. Col. Ott also addressed relationships and family planning while in the military. She talked about her own experiences and what worked or did not work for her and other military personnel she interacted with. She repeatedly made the point that no one works alone in this career field. It is important to seek advice and mentorship because there is always something to be learned from others.

Overall, it was a successful discussion that included seven female cadets and eleven female midshipmen from both the MIT and BU side. Joint meetings with the Air Force are unusual, however, discussing females in leadership roles is important regardless of service. The most important thing I took away from our meeting was that, ultimately, gender does not define anyone. Being a good leader has nothing to do with what someone is—cadet or midshipman, male or female—and everything to do with how they act. If a person works hard and respects those working above, below, and alongside them, they will gain the respect they deserve.


SFS FEX Fall 2016


Article by MIDN 4/c Jack Venden, photo provided by MIDN 2/c Steven LaDine

As a high school student, organization was never one of my major concerns. I was able to keep track of my homework assignments, test dates, and extracurriculars very easily. I excelled in these activities without writing myself notes or maintaining a calendar. As a result, I felt disciplined. Feeling control over my surroundings in high school made me confident that I would require little organizational development as a college student and NROTC midshipman.

After my first week of college classes and my indoctrination weekend, it was clear I was far from organized. I felt blindsided every hour with a new academic or NROTC assignment, event, or task, and I had no plan of how to record it all. Nonetheless, I still felt disciplined. At least I was making more of an effort than the average college student to stay organized and complete my tasks on time. As far as I was concerned, “trying my best” was good enough, and that eventually, the organizational piece would magically come together. It wasn’t until the Field Exercise (or FEX) for Marine Options that I discovered what it truly means to be organized and disciplined.

Upon our arrival to Peddocks Island, I was feeling good to go. I had checked my gear lists, my canteens were full, my moleskin was precut, and my skivvies were rolled and stashed in zip-lock bags. I was hydrated, fed, rested, and motivated. The second we hit the pier however, I was consumed by the chaos. I ran up the hill following the cadre towards the bivouac, my left shoulder burning from the weight of someone’s ILBE, the pole of the guidon banding my shin with every step. I had no control over my surroundings. I didn’t feel disciplined. I felt like an idiot.

Things only got worse after stepping off. I took too long fumbling with the poles and loopholes of the tent, so I had to disassemble it and start over. Halfway through our six-mile hike, I wasted precious minutes looking for my foot powder, so I didn’t have time to eat. I had to fill my stomach with water from my camelback instead. Worst of all, coming back from getting my feet patched up in sick bay, I forgot my rifle. Standing in front of the whole platoon and shouting to the cadre “sir, this candidate does not have his rifle” was by far the most difficult part of my FEX experience.

Our weekend on Peddocks Island taught me the importance of organization in the United States Marine Corps. It became obvious that regardless of speed, volume, intensity, fitness, leadership ability, or drive, people cannot succeed at officer candidate school (OCS) and become effective leaders of Marines without being exceptionally organized. They must be accountable for their own equipment and plans, as well as the equipment and roles of the Marines under their command. Failure to live up to these expectations cannot be tolerated regardless of how hard one tries. In combat, when someone fails to do their job, people die.

The responsibility of our future roles as leaders of Marines is daunting. We will need the ability to make difficult decisions in stressful situations. That ability will be tested to the extreme at OCS, and the only way to learn where we need to improve is to get in the field and practice. This FEX was my first practice, it showed me that I have a long road ahead of me before I can be an officer. More importantly, however, it showed the specific skills I would need to improve upon in order to earn the title “United States Marine Corps Officer.”




Article by MIDN 2/c Palomo, photo by MIDN 3/c Clarke


On October 5th, Admiral Michael Rogers, who is the Commander of US Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency visited the Boston NROTC Consortium.  In his speech, the Admiral addressed a range of topics from his personal journey and experiences to leadership knowledge.  What was striking about his speech was how clear he loves this job and believes in what it stands for.  The passion he showed was inspiring, as he discussed the hardships and sacrifices associated military lifestyle.  He stressed the importance of family and the invaluable support system they offer.  As future military members, we need to be aware of how much our families sacrifice for us and appreciate their sacrifices as well.  “Seeing Admiral Rogers was a really unique and enjoyable experience.  It’s not everyday one gets to see a four-star admiral, especially not one with so much responsibility in such a high profile evolving command.  His remarks informative and inspiring, and his passion for service really shone throughout his time with us.”- MIDN Ramirez.

After his speech, he opened the floor up to questions from the Midshipman.  He shared his perspectives on topics like ISIS, leadership techniques, and mission accomplishment. He has held joint positions involving the Marines, Air force, Army, and Navy since the O-6 level.  The cultures between the four branches are distinct and unique, each having their own strengths and weakness. Joint cooperation between the branches is the way our military is shifting and being able to combine the best parts of each service will be essential.  The discussion was engaging and thought provoking shedding a new light on a wide range of topics.  Many of the Midshipman feel that Admiral Rogers was one of the best guest speakers that we have had the privilege of hosting.  MIDN Haley reflects, “Its always great to have high ranking officers willing to engage us directly here in Boston, but is was especially interesting to hear from an operational commander about not only his path through his career but about the issues that the Navy faces today in terms of cyber security.”

NROTC Midshipmen Attend Motivating Ship Naming Ceremony

SECNAV 19Sep16.jpg

Article by MIDN 1/C Huynh, Photo by SECNAV public affairs staff


Ten midshipmen had the amazing opportunity to attend the naming ceremony of the US Navy’s newest fleet replenishment oilers, T-AO 209 and 210. This service, held in the Boston Public Library, showcased the social reforms which have come to the US Navy under Ray Mabus’ direction. The Secretary of the Navy has named this newest class of oilers the John Lewis-class, after the civil rights activist Rep. John Lewis, and has declared that he would name all subsequent ships after those who fight for human rights. Notably, Secretary Mabus named T-AO 206 “USNS Harvey Milk,” after the LGBTQ rights activist who was assassinated while in political office.

The moving ceremony started off with the presentation of colors and national anthem by the USS Constitution staff. Secretary Mabus then rose and addressed the audience, commenting on the fact that all of the sailors from the USS Constitution staff — both men and women — were wearing the same uniform. Females in the military, he pointed out, were routinely separated from the rest of their comrades in both duties and uniform. But it is clear that he will not stand for this type of inequality in today’s Navy. He told the audience, “you weren’t looking at male sailors or female sailors. You were looking at sailors, and that’s the way it ought to be.”

The SECNAV announced the names for the two newest oilers, which further highlighted his dedication to gender equality and civil rights in the Navy. He named the new oilers the USNS Lucy Stone and the USNS Sojourner Truth, after historic female civil rights leaders.

Lucy Stone was a vocal advocate for women’s rights and the first woman to earn a college degree in Massachusetts. A strong, driven woman, Lucy Stone famously decided to keep her own name after marriage, which was nearly unheard of in the 17th century, and vocally pushed for legislation to abolish slavery and to promote women’s rights and suffrage.

Sojourner Truth was a black woman born into slavery in 1797. Originally born Isabella Baumfree, she changed her name to Sojourner Truth after her escape to freedom, and became an extraordinarily outspoken human rights advocate, known for her speech “Ain’t I A Woman.” She became the first black woman to win a lawsuit against a white man after she sued for custody of her son, who had been sold to a different master after she fled to freedom.

Secretary Mabus also announced the sponsors for the two newest ships during the naming ceremony. For the USNS Lucy Stone, he chose Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and for the USNS Sojourner Truth, he chose Marian Wright Edelman, the founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Ms. Wright attended the ceremony, and spoke on the importance of women’s rights and civil rights activism. She read a quote from Sojourner Truth, which is inscribed on a pendant she wears around her neck: “If women want any rights more than they’ve got, why don’t they just take them and not be talking about it?” Wright exhorted the gathered crowd to take these words seriously, saying that “these are our marching orders.”

After closing remarks by SECNAV, and the reveal of the USNS Sojourner Truth and USNS Lucy Stone, the ceremony was over. The Midshipmen in attendance had the opportunity to talk with some of the former military members in the audience, and then snagged a photo with the Secretary himself (shown above).

The BU-MIT Midshipmen left the ceremony with pride in the tenets which their uniforms represent. MIDN 2/C Henzer of Tufts University commented that “hearing the SECNAV’s explanation of why these ships were receiving these names was extremely important in terms of acknowledging the ideals we fight for, especially given that these women were leaders outside of a military context.” Of course, he also admitted, “getting to see the SECNAV himself was an amazing opportunity, and we all left feeling much more motivated about the service.”

Fourth Class Participate in USS Constitution Heritage Weekend

20160917_122551.jpgBy MIDN 3/C Daniel Kelly, Photo by USS Constitution Public Affairs

Freshmen from the Boston NROTC Consortium traveled to the USS Constitution, “Old Ironsides,” this past weekend, September 17th and 18th, for a lesson in US Navy tradition and interactions with enlisted sailors. The USS Constitution, the Navy’s oldest commissioned warship, is a working naval command as well as a historical site. The crew are all active duty members of the US Navy who participate in outreach events and ceremonies for the mission of educating people on the rich history of the USS Constitution. The incoming 4/C had the honor of taking part in some these events.

Early Saturday, the freshmen and supporting staff arrived at the Constitution ready for a full day of training events and naval history. The weekend started with a trip to Bunker Hill and a lesson on the history of the “Battle of Bunker Hill,” one of the early battles of the American Revolutionary War where the famous order “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” was given. Then the 4/C engaged in an informative lesson in drill with Gunnery Sergeant Askew. Afterwards, the freshmen spent time at various stations where they actively participated in evolutions that the crew of the Constitution in the 19th century would have done as well.

The first of three groups started at the cannon firing station. Midshipmen gained proficiency in the workings of loading and firing a cannon, trying to attain the shortest cycle time. Another group wen to the pike station where they learned how to wield and fight with pikes. The pike, a long staffed weapon with a blade on the end, was used by the Marines on the Constitution to prevent the ship from being boarded. The last of the groups would be at the rowing station, during which the freshmen were able to work as a team and row around the Boston Harbor in gigs designed to resemble ones used by Constitution in the 19th century.

Saturday night the freshmen helped clean the warship and polish her brass, then took part in a tour of the whole ship where they were told the history of the ship and ghost stories from Old Ironsides’ crewmembers. Getting the full experience, the 4/C spent the night under the stars on the top deck of the ship. MIDN 4/C Pilepich said “I gained a true appreciation for the history and the traditions of the Navy. There is nothing quite like spending a night aboard the oldest commissioned ship in the Navy to teach someone that.”

The next morning all of the midshipmen and staff had the opportunity to run along part of Boston’s Freedom Trail all the way to historic Faneuil Hall. The ship’s crew led the formation run and taught the midshipmen to sing cadence. The few hardy Bostonians we met along the route cheered and wished us well as we ran by.

After the run and a quick cleanup, the midshipmen went back to the gunnery station to compete for the fastest time. Team 3 won the event and received “Master Gunner” certificates and spent shell casings from the Constitution’s 40mm ceremonial cannon as their prizes. After cleaning and polishing the ship’s spar deck one last time and enjoying a hot breakfast in the galley, the midshipmen enjoyed an entertaining presentation about the ship’s history and restoration in the USS Constitution Museum and etched their names into the copper plating that will line her hull for the next 20 years.

Overall, it was an amazing learning and team-building experience, and we are thankful to the crew of the USS Constitution for this unique opportunity.


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