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Midshipman Studies Engineering, Chinese at Singapore University

Posted on: January 27, 2014 08:00 EST by Midshipman 1st Class Colleen Randolph

When Midshipman 2nd Class Clayton Petty was applying to the Naval Academy, he imagined that his four years would be spent in Annapolis, at the mouth of the Severn River on the Chesapeake Bay.

Little did he know he would spend his first semester as a second-class midshipman in a much different setting.

Petty, a mechanical engineering major, recently returned to the academy from Nanyang Technological University in the island country of Singapore in Southeast Asia as a part of one of the first groups of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) major midshipmen to travel abroad and continue their high quality STEM education through cultural immersion.

“The value of this STEM semester abroad to Singapore is beyond measure,” said Petty. “I feel very privileged to have been selected for this amazing opportunity, and I am confident that the lessons I have learned and experiences I have gained will not only make me a better midshipman, but also a more valuable officer in the Fleet.”

Petty, along with his classmates  also had the unique chance to study introductory courses in Chinese.

“It was fun to supplement my engineering curriculum with a language that is widely spoken in Singapore,” said Petty.

The valuable experience that Petty received overseas with his fellow midshipmen came with added perks. Students attended classes in civilian clothing and were exposed to a much less regulated schedule than the academy offers. Petty enjoyed the freedom but doesn’t necessarily miss it.

“I honestly appreciate the structure now more than I did prior to leaving The Naval Academy,” he said.

Petty and his classmates were encouraged to join clubs, sports teams and participate in the culture of Singapore as much as possible. Petty, who is typically a member of the Naval Academy’s Club Triathlon team, enjoyed training and excelled in competing with the university's swimming, cross country, and biathlon teams.

“I had an excellent chance to delve deep into the unique Singaporean culture by way of cuisine, social activities, and sporting competitions,” he said.

But the most meaningful part was the people he encountered, he said.

“Working to befriend local students and other exchange students gave me a greater appreciation for the interconnectedness of our globe in this modern age,” said Petty. “Singapore is such a unique country and the diversity there is astounding. I am excited to see this program grow, and I highly recommend the study abroad experience to future midshipmen.”

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