1/C Chimiak: 2013 SWIFT overview
The SWIFT internship has been one of the most challenging yet extremely rewarding evolution's I have done during my three years at the Academy. I applied for SWIFT 3/C year and did not receive a spot on the team. This year I applied again and was granted the opportunity to be part of the team along with being chosen as one of the team leaders.
I got a lot more out of SWIFT than I could have ever imagined. Before departing Annapolis on May 10, 2013 I envisioned a trip to simply "view" weather. A major part of SWIFT was viewing weather however getting the hands on experiences with the weather models like SPC and HRRR allowed for myself and the other midshipmen to learn how to predict severe weather and understand the complications that go into forecasting. Learning how to use these models allowed myself and the other midshipmen to accurately pick target cities to chase in. Once arriving to these target cities with the help of radar and visuals within the clouds I learned a great deal about where tornadoes form, hail occurs and where the "core" of the storm is located. With that being said, I also learned that models are not always correct. When chasing for tornadoes I found the models looked far more promising than what the atmosphere showed. This led to frustration at times but I had to keep an optimistic outlook and remind myself I was dealing with nature.
A major part of the SWIFT trip was logistics. Logistics included tasks such as packing the van, gassing up the van, finding hotels, finding food and navigating to storm locations. This was a stressful task at times especially when a chase ended late at night. Logistics taught me how to delegate my work to my team members. There was not a chance of me completing every task alone. I had four other midshipmen on my team. I tasked two of them with food and hotels, one with multimedia uploads and the other with van/equipment maintenance. This allowed me to focus on navigating us to target locations and it left me as a "filter" between midshipmen and officer/professor.
SWIFT also taught me about keeping my team motivated while accomplishing the mission at hand. Lucky for me, the other firstie and the eight 2/C with me all got along and no one had negative attitudes. Sometimes one of us including myself would become flustered and therefore have sarcastic comments but we kept each other in check. The rising 2/C were motivated midshipman and they stepped up to the plate without hesitating. Many willingly took on task without being asked. For example, 2/C Borrego took on the responsibility of the Go-pro's. He charged them, moved them into position and made awesome videos that the SWIFT team and STEAM program will now have for the future. Having 1/C Whitt working with me was a blessing. Not being a tech savvy individual (I was the only one on the trip without a smart phone), Whitt helped me out tremendously with van prep and computer trouble shooting. It was nice having another firstie on board to bounce ideas off of as well.
Overall SWIFT was the best internship and military training I have ever experienced at the Academy. I was able to practice my leadership skills along with doing in field work with my major. I was given the opportunity to work with LCDR Woods and Dr. Barrett who are well educated oceanography faculty members. LCDR Woods military background and Dr. Barrett created an efficient work environment. Every evening Whitt and myself did debriefs with the two faculty members. Some day we received praise about a job well done while other were more serious. Either way, there advice went along way and I can carry these lessons with me out into the fleet.