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Computing @ West Point
Technology at the Forefront of the Academy

The Army and the Nation of the 21st Century depend on computers and information technology. West Point develops technically savvy leaders who will lead the Army and the Nation in the Information Age.

West Point has been in the vanguard universities in adopting computers and technology into all aspects of education and cadet development. West Point was one of the first schools to require every student to own a personal computer.

In 1986, the USMA class of 1990 was the first class to be issued a personal computer. We have come a long way since then and remain one of the most technically advanced undergraduate institutions in the world.

Computing at West Point starts with the cadet computer. The entire campus is networked. Every barracks room, every classroom, every laboratory and every office has high-speed access to West Point's network.

In addition to an Extensive wired network, cadets and faculty enjoy one of the the largest wireless networks in the world. Over 450 wireless access points allow expanded collaborative opportunities so that wherever cadets want to collaborate, they can.

The Military Academy has multiple high-speed connections to the Internet. Every classroom has a technology package, which includes a networked workstation, cable TV hook-up, VCR, sound system and high-resolution projector. Networked computers support every lab.

Making the Grades, and making IT work for the Corps of Cadets

Cadets do not just use computers in educational settings; they use computer technology to run the Corps of Cadets. Members of all four classes perform chain-of-command duties and other tasks as part of their leader development. Cadets use E-mail, web sites, Instant Messaging (IM), databases and other computer technology to be more effective leaders. Cadets receive ten television stations on their computers over the wired network. Not only do cadets have their own computers, but they each have their own file server space and web page on a 37 terabyte DELL™ Storage Area Network (SAN) solution.

Cadet's introduction to technology starts during New Cadet Training. They are introduced to the features they will find on their new computer when they get them in August. Over 1200 laptop computers are issued, configured to run securely on both the wired and wireless networks, and cadets send their first email all in one day. It is just another day at the Military Academy. Before the first day of class, each cadet has a new state-of-the-art computer and high-speed network access.

During Plebe (or freshman) year, each cadet takes the Introduction to Computing and Information Technology course. During this course they learn the information technology principals and problem solving using programming. Cadets learn how to work with the latest in IT: file servers, web servers, networks, and personal digital assistants like Palms™ and Visors.™ They also learn how to build web pages using HTML and Java. By the end of the course, cadets will be writing Java programs that control Lego™ Robots using sensors they built to navigate through an obstacle course!

During Cow (or junior) year, most cadets take the Theory and Practice of Military IT Systems course. Cadets learn the additional information technology principals and the implications of technology. Cadets build distributed applications linking web sites to databases to provide dynamic content using the latest technologies. They build networks using hubs, switches, routers, sniffers, and firewalls. Throughout the course, cadets examine how these technologies are employed in Army and what effect these technologies have on decision-making.

Computing at West Point is much more than Computer Science. In many courses throughout the academic program computers enhance the educational experience. For example the Chemistry Labs have powerful networked computers to record data and analyze results. The Foreign Language Labs use the latest in multi-media technology to improve foreign language skills. Another example is the the computer-aided-design (CAD) lab in the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering. It has a “3D Printer” that creates physical models of the objects out of plastic that were designed by cadets using only the computer.

West Point graduates have not only taken exciting hands-on courses on computer technology, they have used computers to enhance math, science, engineering, humanities and public affairs. They have not just used computers in an educational setting, they have put what the learned into use while leading in the barracks, in summer training and West Point and out in the Army. They are ready to lead a high-tech digitized Army!

Cadet Computing Links