Computer Science?

Discussion in 'Naval Academy - USNA' started by Hammond, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. Hammond

    Hammond Member

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    I know this is more of a vague and kind of amorphous question, but I am happy with broad answers from a variety of sources.

    I would like to go into a Computer Science degree, and I'm curious which Academy would offer the best education -- and ultimately, life in the field during active duty.

    I have been looking at USCGA, USNA, and USAFA and I am looking to see what school and ultimately branch could do best for me concerning Computer Science and programming. I know USCGA does not really have a "Computer Science" degree, but more an "Electrical Engineering/Computer Track", but I would like a bit more insight offered on this as well...

    Words of wisdom, anyone?
     
  2. nuensis

    nuensis USNA 2016

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    All of them are ABET accredited. USNA offers summer internships for all classes (10th Fleet, MARFORCYBER, NSA, NRL, NRO, Draper Labs, etc.).

    For the Navy, thanks to the URL/RL distinction, you probably won't be doing anything related to the field for at least a few years after graduation unless you execute a crisp and motivational supply dive. For USMC, the thirds system at TBS means you have no guarantee of anything.
     
  3. kinnem

    kinnem Moderator

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    +1 to nuensis.

    I worked as a software engineer for a well known major corporation for 38 years, 1 month, and 1 day. I reviewed the curriculums you mention at each school. The curriculum at USNA and USAFA seem comparable and either would give you a good foundation for working in the software industry. I might give a slight edge to USNA but that's primarily a reflection of the quality of their "catalog" and not a reliable endorsement.

    USCGA Computer Track will get you some software experience (hard to tell how much and what areas - but I would guess microcode is covered) but will be far more hardware oriented. If you want to live life close to the bare metal as a software guy this can be good. If you're looking to do web design or some "higher level' software, probably not so much. Looks like an excellent program though and there is certainly a need for some guys in the industry who live close to the shiny metal chips.

    The Systems Track appears to be for hardware guys only. No software sissies here. (You might want to minor in Chinese or Hindi of you go this route.)

    Hopefully someone with direct experience of the programs will chime in with their experience.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  4. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    Hammond,

    I would ask you to think where you see yourself down the road (long term)?
    Do you want to be dealing with the next type of computer chip (CompSci)? Do you want to design the next software that will prevent ICBMs (IT)? Do you want to prevent a major firm or corporation from a cyber attack (Cyber)?

    Computer Science, Information Technology, and Cyber Operations are probably three majors you should consider.

    I'd argue that cyber is probably the most relevant in today's military that can be used almost immediately after graduation (and in the real world). The Navy was looking at direct accession billets to the Information Dominance Corps (IDC) communities -- meaning that after graduation, you would go to the Information Warfare, Information Professional, or Intelligence communities without having to go another route first -- not sure where the Navy is exactly at with this. Information Warfare Officers (IWOs) deal mostly with Signals Intelligence and Computer Network Operations (i.e. cyber), with Information Professional Officers (IPs) dealing more with communications/networks infrastructure and Information Assurance (i.e. Info Technology and some Computer Science). President Obama recently nominated VADM Rogers (an IWO) to head Director, NSA and Commander, USCYBERCOM. Additionally, DoD is forming cyber teams to help prevent or strike against cyber attacks.

    Visit: http://www.usna.edu/CS/ and http://www.usna.edu/Cyber/
     
  5. Hammond

    Hammond Member

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    Thanks for all of the replies, guys.

    nuensis -- I'm sure just about any of the educational experiences are incredible at an Academy.
    That's what I was worried about, though, with Navy. USNA has always been my first choice, but the URL/RL distinction could really keep me away from computer science for at least two years, with the first ensign tour duty. I didn't really plan on Marines.

    kinnem, I think that is why I have been putting USNA and USAFA a bit higher than USCGA.

    usnabgo08: I can certainly say Cyber Operations and Computer Science fascinate me. I would have no problem whatsoever with Cyber, I would love to have that as a major.
    If I could go through with a Cyber Operations major and go directly and immediately into the Information Dominance Corps community with Information Professional, I would absolutely go that route. Is that possible with the Cyber Operations major? The first tour duty as an SWO would kind of deter me.

    I consider USAFA, though, because I could graduate with an incredible CS degree and go straight to a Cyber Operations Officer. I honestly doubt I would fly.

    Thoughts on those ideas . . .?
    Kind of hoping a USAFA guy might offer some advice.
     
  6. usnabgo08

    usnabgo08 USNA 2008/BGO

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    As I know of right now, there is no direct accession into the IDC (if otherwise medically qualified). I am curious what makes you not want to be a SWO? If you go into the IP community, the tours normally alternate between sea and shore...which means, while not a SWO, you will be operating on a ship (or an afloat staff -- DESRON/PHIBRON/CSG/ESG) or working with them. Part of the problem of having new ENS (non-LDO or prior type) directly enter the IDC is they have no operational experience. The lack of this experience might affect one's credibility when dealing with CO's afloat and not be able to truly understand the operational environment.

    Also, as you get senior within the military, you becomes more "hands off." As an ENS, you aren't designing code, building network infrastructure, etc. You lead guys and gals who do that for you.

    As a CompSci/IT/CyberOPS major, you would have more of an advantage in selecting SWO-IDC option programs (or direct accession programs, should they be offered) over others.
     

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