92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Sunday, 22 January 2012
USAFA Meteorology Program
Hall E (New Orleans Convention Center )
Joshua M. Palmer, United States Air Force Academy, USAF Academy, CO

The meteorology program at the United States Air Force Academy (USAFA) is focused on providing competent officers of character to serve in the United States Air Force (USAF). Each student at USAFA is a cadet and is responsible for academic, military and physical performance. The meteorology program gives cadets the opportunity to attend the AMS conference, complete independent research for credit, and travel to Antarctica on an internship. Independent research is an unprecedented tool in leading cadets to become future researchers of their own. Some of the research they complete includes literary reviews, studying the mesoscale environment around USAFA and using the results to better forecast for the airfield. On top of academics the cadets are required to be proficient in their military duties. Their military duties include marching, uniform standards, and their squadron jobs. A squadron is comprised of roughly 100 cadets who live and eat together every day and each of them has a specific role within the squadron to ensure its success. There is a specific progression through leadership roles that USAFA implements to ensure each cadet gets adequate training in how to be a leader and follower. At the beginning of their freshmen year cadets must begin learning how to be a follower by attending and graduating Basic Cadet Training (BCT) before they are accepted into USAFA. In between academic years, cadets are required to complete an airmanship program and their options include freefall parachuting, soaring, unmanned aerial vehicles, and powered flight. These programs afford cadets the opportunity to see the impacts of weather to operations in the Department of Defense and how observing and forecasting are critical tools used to ensure mission completion. As a cadet progresses through USAFA they leave their follower role and begin to acquire leadership positions where they are responsible for the training and development of future officers. On top of their military and academic responsibilities the cadets also have to stay in good physical shape. Each cadet is a student-athlete because they are all required to participate in intramurals and pass a physical fitness test at the beginning of each semester. Their physical education classes range from boxing and unarmed combat to SCUBA and racquetball class where their grades are directly affected by their performance during fights and whether they are victorious.

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