Innovation: The West Point Way
If there’s any college that needs to be on the cutting edge, it’s West Point. As the preeminent leader development institution in the world and America's #1 public university, West Point is charged with training and educating the next generation of leaders to help fight our nation's wars, serve as civic leaders, and grow its businesses and economy in uncertain times. In other words, the stakes are extremely high. That’s why West Point takes innovation so seriously.
Innovation is happening all across our campus, every single day. Recently, West Point’s math and chemistry departments took a small group of cadets to present a synthetic biology project at a national conference. Every year, cadets and faculty present papers at a Department of English and Philosophy-sponsored conference considering the ethics of war. Our engineering department’s robotic’s center is up and running, helping spearhead efforts at bringing new technology into the armed forces. And we’re making headway into research programs in other departments as well.
Two other leaders in innovation at West Point are the Center for Enhanced Performance (CEP) and the Cadet Competitive Cyber Team (C3T).
CENTER FOR ENHANCED PERFORMANCE
Cadets at West Point are constantly pushing themselves to achieve more physically, mentally, and academically, but they never have to go it alone. West Point’s Center for Enhanced Performance (CEP) exists to help train the Corps of Cadets on performance psychology and academic skills to develop their full potential. Cadets must face their fears, but the CEP’s mission is to ensure that they are equipped to do it effectively.
Executive officer, Major Seth Nieman, explains that the CEP exists for all students who want to grow and optimize their performance in any are of cadet life. Athlete’s looking to channel positive psychology to overcome a sports injury, student’s that require tutoring in an academic course, and critical thinkers competing for Rhodes scholarships have all found the support they need in the CEP. The CEP exists to help cadets optimize performance and achieve their respective goals. Ideally these cadets will apply these academic skills and mental skills as officers in our Army.
“Performance optimization is so important because at its root, the program is about providing the necessary mental skills and competencies to overcome stressors and fears,” MAJ Nieman says. “This fundamental skill set empowers our cadets to adapt and win in rapidly evolving strategic and operational environments as Army leaders.”
CADET COMPETITIVE CYBER TEAM (C3T)
But innovation at West Point isn’t limited to performance psychology. While battles in the past were fought on land, more and more, we’re seeing that some of the greatest battles America will face in the next century will be online. That’s why one of the places you can see West Point’s cutting-edge innovation is on its Cadet Competitive Cyber Team, or C3T for short.
Lieutenant Colonel Josh Bundt, Instructor in the Army Cyber Institute, helps lead C3T, and since it began in 2012, the team regularly participates in intercollegiate cyber competitions, demonstrating USMA’s skill in this most critical area for national security. While almost every major university offers a computer science program, West Point’s program has been certified by the National Security Agency as a center of academic excellence in both Information Assurance (cyber defense) and Cyber Operations (cyber offense).
“Cybersecurity competitions are a great way to get introduced to the concepts on cyber security in a legal, entertaining, and competitive environment,” LTC Bundt says. “Faculty in our programs include Active Duty military officers who have worked at the highest levels of the Department of Defense's cyber workforce. And [our programs] also provide a path to one of the few places you can legally conduct offensive cyber operations—the US Military.”
So, whether you’re interested in enhancing your performance in the classroom and on the sports field, or sparring with America’s enemies online—West Point has innovation programs in place to for you to engage and grow. Find another public university with that kind of reach. We dare you.