Midshipmen Travel to Guatemala for Senior Capstone
POSTED ON: Friday, April 11, 2014 8:00 AM by Colleen E. RandolphMidshipmen Travel to Guatemala for Senior Capstone
Colleen E. Randolph
When 1st Class Kathleen Mullen decided upon ocean engineering as a major her plebe
year, she knew that the Naval Academy would provide her with an education in a field
that she was excited and eager to learn.
Little did she know however, that in her first class year she would get the chance to
travel to Guatemala and spend time with the Guatemalan Navy to round out her senior
Mullen, along with Midshipmen 1st Class Drew Gieger, Britta Bly, and Payton Alsup and
ocean engineering Professor David Kriebel got the experience of a lifetime traveling to
Guatemala this year.
“Ensign Pam Guizar-Castillo of the Guatemalan Navy contacted Professor Kriebel to tell
him about some coastal issues on the Pacific coast of Guatemala near Puerto Quetzal,”
When Guizar, an alumnus of the Naval Academy and former member of 4th Company,
suggested it as a senior capstone project, the midshipmen jumped at the chance.
Mullen said that there were a multitude of issues that midshipmen were called to gather
information about and analyze.
“Structures and interruptions along the coastline have interrupted the natural transport
of sand along the coastline resulting in an excess of sand in some places, and a deficit of
sand in others,” said Mullen. “Puerto Quetzal is a major economic resource for the
country. It is a major import and export port, and naval ships and cruise ships also use
the port. The surrounding beaches are also experiencing significant erosion and a high
amount of coastline change. Inlets built to allow access to the sea are poorly constructed
and clogged with sediment, making them very shallow at low tide and dangerous to
Mids visited the Guatemalan Naval Academy in Puerto Quetzal, spent time with
Guatemalan Naval Officers, met with port authorities and took data with Guatemalan
Mullen’s favorite part was presenting the group’s preliminary findings to the
Guatemalan midshipmen, officers, locals, and port authorities.
“We made our power point presentation on the last night we were in Puerto Quetzal,”
Mullen, who also speaks Spanish, translated their project and was overjoyed at the
opportunity to use both her ocean engineering and her language skills.