Notre Dame Hosts Junior ROTC Cadets from Chicago

Story Number: NNS120229-01Release Date: 2/29/2012 4:16:00 AM
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By Lt. Jeffrey S. Gray, Navy City Outreach, Chicago

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (NNS) -- Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) cadets from six of Chicago's publicly-funded military high schools spent Presidents Day engaging with Naval ROTC Midshipmen and learning about robotics and nuclear physics research from professors at the University of Notre Dame Feb. 20.

The visit to Notre Dame was sponsored by Navy Recruiting District, Chicago, and hosted by the University of Notre Dame's office of admissions, and the Naval ROTC unit at Notre Dame.

Twenty-four cadets, representing Chicago's Air Force Academy High School, Carver Military Academy, Chicago Military Academy, Marine Math and Science Academy, Phoenix Military Academy, and Rickover Naval Academy, were invited to participate in the outreach event.

Capt. Clarence E. Carter, professor of Naval Science and commanding officer for the Naval ROTC unit at the University of Notre Dame, welcomed the cadets upon their arrival to the campus and joined them for lunch at the campus' south dining hall.

Welcoming the cadets, Carter commended them for their decision to be a part of the Junior ROTC program, and stressed the importance of Junior ROTC as a guide for young people to grow and develop into mature young adults. Carter also emphasized the importance of Junior ROTC in shaping future leaders and potential Midshipmen in the Naval ROTC program.

"Naval ROTC is a potential next step for these cadets as they look to their respective futures," said Carter. "They can use their experiences from Junior ROTC to pursue their passions and dreams, and enlarge their experiences to serve their country. Naval ROTC is great opportunity and potential fit for these cadets."

After spending time with the Naval ROTC program, the cadets were provided an overview of the university's admission process by LeShane Saddler, assistant director for admissions.

Saddler spoke about the importance of being involved in activities as a significant factor in the admissions decision-making process.

"Involvement can mean a number of things," said Saddler. "Being involved in clubs and organizations; sports or after school programs; or, what I know you are involved with right now, Junior ROTC. The point is, Notre Dame is a school you can attend. However, it's important for you to stay involved with Junior ROTC and extend your involvement to your community, but most importantly prepare yourself academically to attend a school like the University of Notre Dame."

After the admissions talk, cadets were led by Naval ROTC Midshipmen Steven Prendergast, Victoria Hennings, and Mitch Lopes on a campus tour that provided insight into some of the history and traditions of the Notre Dame campus.

After an all-you-can-eat lunch at the South Dining Hall, the cadets moved to Cushing Hall of Engineering for a robotics demonstration from a research group headed by James Schmiedeler, associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Schmiedeler's research focuses on biped robot locomotion, human recovery from stroke and spinal-cord-injury, robot-assisted rehabilitation, prosthetic devices, mechanical energy storage for vehicles and the design of shape-changing mechanisms.

"I want the students to understand that we are working on problems important to society, problems of robotics and mechanical design," said Schmiedeler. "Working on those problems can be difficult and challenging, but it can also be fun and exciting. Applying your intellect to find creative solutions to these problems is a lot of fun. We come into the lab and enjoy our work every day, and we'd like them to be a part of the fun by joining us in a few years down the road."

From Cushing Hall, the cadets moved over to Nieuwland Science Hall, which houses a pair of particle accelerators within the Nuclear Science Laboratory. The accelerators assist with the study of nuclear reactions which are important to the understanding of energy production and the origin of elements in stars and explosive stellar environments.

At the Nuclear Science Laboratory, they met Ed Stech, associate professional specialist nuclear physics, who provided an overview of the research of the laboratory and a guided tour of particle accelerator lab.

"My hope is that the students gained an appreciation of how the accelerator lab works, how our lab does basic physics research into the properties and processes of the physical universe, but more importantly I hope it sparked an interest in them to pursue studies in the field of nuclear physics," said Stech.

"From the Naval ROTC perspective, being able to show these cadets the educational and career opportunities available in the Navy and get a taste for what life is like at an elite university campus like Notre Dame is a tremendous opportunity", said Carter. "We hope they choose Naval ROTC and choose to study the high demand majors of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. Becoming an officer who is technically educated will benefit not only the individual and the Navy, but will also benefit our country in the future."

Among the cadets, the trip was viewed as a tremendous opportunity to learn about the Naval ROTC program and more about the interesting academic programs offered to undergraduates at Notre Dame.

"I didn't know about all the numerous career opportunities the Navy has," said Cadet Tralisa Ware, a junior at Air Force Academy High School. "I attend Air Force Academy High School, and we learn a lot about the opportunities the Air Force provides. I wasn't planning to major in math, science or engineering, but the tour of the physics lab and robotics demonstration really piqued my interest in those academic areas."

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