About 40 Civil Air Patrol cadets converged July 9-15 at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro for CAP’s National Cadet Engineering Technology Academy, also known as E-Tech.
Participating as students and staff, the cadets hailed from as far away as the Hawaii, Iowa, Minnesota, and Texas wings — and even, in one case, Ramstein Cadet Squadron in Germany.
Activities covered aerospace, engineering technology, physics and astronomy, data science, concrete and construction management, geosciences, biology, chemistry, and mechatronics.
“E-Tech is a fantastic exposure to all the different technical departments across the university — with lots of hands-on fun,” said Cadet Capt. Seth Damsgard of the Minnesota Wing’s North Hennepin Composite Squadron, cadet commander for the academy.
The academy also featured experiences in MTSU’s high-tech MakerSpace, activities with the Army ROTC program; a visit to the College of Media and Entertainment’s Recording Industry Studio D; a presentation by officials from General Mills’ Murfreesboro plant; and a seminar led by retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Keith Huber, the university’s senior adviser for veterans and leadership initiatives.
Among the hands-on activities were piloting aerospace flight simulators, driving “moon buggies” built by the university’s engineering technology students, working ground-penetrating radar, and using the electronic marksmanship course under Army ROTC instructors’ watch.
Damsgard’s favorites were “creating in the MakerSpace, driving the engineering vehicles, and flying in the simulators,” he said, adding that “his unique experience will spark new interests for all us cadets.”
“Nothing beats the practical experience our cadets are receiving in the classrooms and laboratories” on campus, said Lt. Col. Robert Gilbert, E-Tech activity director and the Southeast Region’s deputy chief of staff for aerospace education.
Cadet Lt. Col. Andrew Emert-Higgins of the Maryland Wing’s Harford Composite Squadron, found it “nice meeting people who are passionate about engineering and being able to figure out new fields of possible interest.”
In addition, “you get to figure out what you’re passionate about in relation to STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics),” Emert-Higgins said.
For Cadet Staff Sgt. Olivia Booyer of the Missouri Wing’s Lake Ozark Regional Composite Squadron, a highlight was visiting MTSU’s aerospace department. “My favorite part was operating the flight simulator,” she said.
Taking in the MTSU campus was tops for Cadet 1st Lt. Grace Lazo-Lemos of the Michigan Wing’s Al Johnson Legacy Cadet Squadron.
“Whether STEM is your field of interest or not, you’ll leave having learned something new.” Lazo-Lemus said.
MTSU and CAP have been partners in aerospace education for cadets since 2014. The two entities first partnered from 1948-1953, when CAP’s Middle Tennessee State College Squadron was organized by students taking flight training at the on-campus airport.
The school began hosting E-Tech in 2017.
“We are proud to partner with Civil Air Patrol and look forward to welcoming these top-notch cadets to our campus every summer” for “a truly broad set of unique, hands-on experiences,” said MTSU Provost Mark Byrnes.
Lt. Col. Andrew Oppmann
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Photos by Andy Heidt, Middle Tennessee State University