Tag Archives: usafa

The most beautiful song, Nov. 21, 2012

By Retired Gen. Steve Lorenz
U.S. Air Force Academy Endowment

By all measures, it was a typical football game day at Falcon Stadium. Many people were tailgating, there was a slight chill in the air, the sky was a brilliant bright blue, and the crowd was excited as the game time approached. With great precision, the Cadet Wing had marched into the stadium. With great fanfare, the Wings of Blue parachute team had jumped onto the football field, and the flyover by several Air Force aircraft had created much excitement.

As the cadet band began to play our national anthem, the audience around us rose up to show respect for our flag and the music Francis Scott Key wrote 200 years ago. In unison, we placed our right hands over our hearts to show the proper respect as the Star Spangled Banner was played.

As the ceremony began, the entire stadium went silent as they turned to face the American flag and listen to the music. It was then that I heard what initially sounded like a person yelling at the top of his lungs and making loud, incoherent sounds. I did not know what it was, but my initial reaction was one of disbelief and irritation that this person could be so insensitive and disrespectful while an entire stadium full of people were saluting our nation’s flag.


But as I listened closely to this disruptive sound, I began to make out what appeared to be words. I could not understand every word, but every third or fourth word seemed to fit into the melody of our national anthem. Someone, in his own painful way, was singing the Star Spangled Banner.

I looked where the sounds were coming from. In front of me was the ramp reserved for handicapped fans, and there he was. A young man was sitting in a wheelchair, in an Air Force T-shirt, with an Air Force baseball cap perched on his head. He was swaying back and forth to the sounds of the music despite suffering from the obvious physical effects of a serious long term debilitating illness.

As I listened more carefully, I could make out more and more of the words he was singing. This handicapped Air Force Academy football fan had a huge smile on his face as he sang with great gusto our national anthem.

My initial irritation immediately turned to great pride as I watched this young man sing his heart out. Tears welled up in my eyes as I listened to the finest rendition of the Star Spangled Banner I had ever heard. This young man touched my heart and the hearts of everyone around him who really heard what he was singing. I walked up to 31 year old Kenny Frith, who was born with cerebral palsy, and thanked him for reminding me what really is important. I told him I would never forget him or his singing of our national anthem.

Air Force Academy energy research will yield global benefits, October 18, 2012

Glass beakers

By Lt. Col. Patrick Suermann
Air Force Academy Civil and Environmental Engineering Department

“I am Air Force Energy” is more than just a catchphrase at the Air Force Academy. Those words, provided by Air Force Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Dr. Kevin Geiss as the theme for Energy Awareness Month, resonates at the Air Force Academy, whose faculty are innovating across the spectrum of academic departments to further educate and develop future leaders of character and advance energy technology.

After studying energy-related topics in two core courses, Chemistry 110 and Physics 110, cadets can take the science and technology energy systems core option or specialize in approximately 17 major’s courses from Economics to Engineering that deal with the importance of being informed energy consumers and engineers.

Dr. Darrell Pepper, a distinguished visiting professor from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas teaching in the Academy’s Engineering Mechanics Department, donated a 3-kilowatt wind turbine for study in the renewable energy course offered here. The turbine provides hands-on experience for cadets, Pepper said.

In time, Pepper said he expects the turbine will be moved outdoors so cadets can study it in a more realistic setting.

“This class, with its practical approach, will prepare our cadets to make energy-wise decisions when they are leaders in the Air Force,” said Dr. Mike Maixner, an instructor in the Engineering Mechanics Department. “The Defense Department will greatly benefit from energy-aware officers.”

Similarly, Dr. Karen Henry received a grant to install an energy foundation system and associated monitoring equipment in a lavatory facility recently constructed at the Field Engineering and Readiness Laboratory in Jacks Valley. The facility uses a geothermal approach to heating and cooling: Energy foundations combine with the structural supports for a building with a heat pump so that the foundations can be used as ground-source heat exchangers.

This provides a cost-efficient approach to conserve energy, reduce carbon emissions and reduce installation costs. Eventually, Henry will compare measured performance indicators, including construction and lifecycle costs, with those expected for conventional heating and cooling systems.

Lt. Col. Andrew Laffely, Maj. Brian Cooper and Al Mundy have established a renewable energy lab in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department with support from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. The lab allows cadets to study the implementation of wind and solar energy. In the past four years, cadets have developed wind turbines, solar power systems and an electric vehicle. The team is currently integrating these technologies into a deployable vehicle system and modular microgrid that can operate without external fuel supply for the life of the battery system.

Col. Robert Kraus, the Academy’s chief scientist and director of research, and Dr. Randy Knize, the center director, highlight two projects at different levels of completion: cycloidal wave energy and silicon’s use in photovoltaic solar cells.

Academy researchers studied wave energy conversion using cycloidal turbines from September 2008 to August 2012. The project demonstrated advances in harnessing ocean waves and resulted in the foundation of a spinoff company, Atargis Energy Corporation. Atargis Energy obtained U.S. Energy Department funding to further advance their approach.

Knize also overseas Academy researchers conducting studies into black silicon. Silicon is the premier material for the conversion of solar energy directly into electrical energy. They are investigating a process that uses laser irradiation to increase silicon’s absorption, thus increasing energy conversion. Black silicon was invented at Harvard about 10 years ago; research shows it could improve the efficiency of solar cells. Knize’s research team showed that black silicon could be created with less expense using nanosecond lasers and possibly continuous-wave lasers.

The Defense Department is the largest federal energy consumer, and the Air Force is the largest energy consumer in the DOD. With this understanding, faculty members here will continue to do their part to think and act locally with research that will yield benefits globally.

Photo: Glass beakers and aluminum foil mark the beginning for different breeds of algae as part of the Life Sciences Research Center’s research into harvesting algae for biofuels. (U.S. Air Force photo by Bill Evans)

Falcons vs. Black Knights

By Airman 1st Class Westin Warburton
Air Force Public Affairs Agency

In a battle for the Commander in Chief’s Trophy, the U.S. Air Force Academy Falcons duked it out against the U.S. Army Black Knights, Nov. 5, 2011. It was a gut-wrenching first half for Falcon fans, as the Knights took an early lead. But when the second half came around, the Falcons were a team possesed. With the determination to win their second consecutive Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, the Falcons soared to a 24-14 victory over the Knights. Check out some great photos from the game here, and let us know which ones you like the best!

Photo: Air Force Academy Falcons wide receiver Zach Kauth snatches a Tim Jefferson pass during the Air Force-Army game at Falcon Stadium, Nov. 5, 2011. The Kauth catch could be considered the turning point in the game as the Falcons were down 14-0 at that point in the second half. The Falcons scored 21 points in the third quarter en route to a 24-14 victory over the Black Knights and their second consecutive Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Raymond Hoy)

Congrats graduates!

We’d like to congratulate all the new accessions into the Air Force this summer.  You’re joining the service at a great time; you’ll have the opportunity to lead, change, deploy and serve the nation.  This picture is fitting of the digital natives now coming into the junior ranks of the Air Force.  As we discussed recently, more and more Airmen are signing up with social networks and using mobile devices to stay connected. 

Here, 2nd Lt. Ashleigh Peck celebrates her appointment following graduation from USAFA May 27, 2009.  She’s slated to become a Public Affairs officer. Time and time again, Airmen are finding ways to stay connected, share their opinions and discuss items with their peers, elected officials and the media. 

Photo by Dennis Rogers 090527-F-2319R-004.

Air Force’s Continuum of Service (CoS) sees positive results

We recently wrote about the Air Force’s Continuum of Service (CoS) initiative, a program that aims to eliminate barriers to service for all Airmen (watch our video for more information).  Airmen can log into the tool (access requires a .mil address and CAC card) to submit an issue, track its progress and view other issues in a variety of categories.  Since that post, there have been several submissions to the CoS Tracking Tool, and we wanted to share a recent success.

CoS has successfully completed an initiative allowing Air Force Academy cadets to graduate from the Academy and go directly into postgraduate theology education programs, quickly filling critical chaplain shortages.

These theology education students no longer have to complete an initial operational assignment prior to applying for this education, and this will speed up the process increasing the number of chaplains in service.  Graduates owe five years for USAFA after schooling, plus an active duty service commitment of year for each year of chaplaincy school.

This decision was developed in coordination with Air Force Chaplain Service, Air Force Manpower and Personnel and Academy leadership to meet critical faith requirements.

We’ll bring you another success story next week, but in the meantime, help us help you – send us your issues and suggestions today!

Thanks to SAF/MR —  Manpower and Rerserve Affairs for providing Air Force Live with this post.