USNA Computer Science Department
Continuous Learning Opportunities

The following sections summarize many of the continuous learning opportunities available to Midshipmen in the Computer Science Department at the USNA, both during their studies and after graduation. The Computer Science Department is committed to the notion of lifelong learning, and wholeheartedly supports all these opportunities as a complement to its course of instruction in the classroom.

1 Summer Internships and Outside Classes

Though they may vary from year to year due to funding, the CS Department currently support the summer internships listed below. Summer internships count as professional training, so they replace other afloat assignments rather than leave. Internships are awarded on a competitive basis when the number of applicants exceeds the number of available positions. The info briefs and the application process normally begin in January. Interested Midshipmen should contact Shari Biery or CDR Blenkhorn.

1.1 National Security Agency (NSA)

In 2012, the department sent 8 Midshipmen to NSA, of 12 total (the others were from Math and ECE). This program requires a TS/SCI clearance. There are several divisions to which you may be assigned, from Operations to Research and Development. Midshipmen will lodge on or near Fort Meade.


The National Reconnaissance Office sponsors summer internships to the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, CA. In 2012, the department sent 4 Midshipmen to this program, which also requires a TS/SCI clearance. NPS offers postgraduate degrees in Computer Science, and the faculty are very involved in research. NPS has an engineering focus and a diverse student body, including military officers from all the services, DoD civilians, and international military officers from around the world. Many Naval Officers transitioning to the IDC community will study in Computer Science at NPS as part of their transition. Midshipmen will be assigned to NPS faculty members to assist with ongoing research.

1.3 Naval Research Lab

The Naval Research Lab is located in the Washington, D.C. area, near Bolling Air Force Base and Anacostia, on the East side of the Potomac. In 2012, the department sent 4 Midshipmen to NRL for internships. Though Midshipmen have sometimes stayed in Annapolis and commuted to NRL, our preference is to provide lodging near NRL for this assignment. NRL performs a wide variety of applied research, including material science, space systems, robotics, and high-performance and secure computing. A Secret clearance is required.

1.4 Draper Labs

Draper Labs is located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2012, the department sent 3 Midshipmen on internships to Draper. The most recent opportunities involved the labs’ UUV research program, data mining for intelligence, and cyber defense. A Secret clearance is required.

1.5 Trident Warrior

Trident Warrior is an annual research-focused Naval exercise. Midshipmen may be involved in data collection and analysis. The exercise normally involves a combination of underway and in-port activities. In 2012, USNA sent 8 Midshipmen to Trident Warrior overall, with 1 coming from the CS Department. A Secret clearance is required.

1.6 Outside Classes

In recent years, the department has been able to send selected Midshipmen to advanced commercial courses. Many of these courses are offered by the SANS Institute, which specializes in cyber security, and has been a strong supporter of USNA. Contact a faculty member if interested.

2 ACM and IEEE Computer Society

2.1 ACM

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) claims to be the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society. It sponsors the ACM Turing Award, which some call the “Nobel Prize in Computer Science.” ACM Student Memberships begin at $19. The ACM Digital Library, which is accessible by Midshipmen for free via when accessed via the Naval Academy network, is a vast collection of articles from conferences and journals on a wide variety of computing disciplines. The ACM also sponsors Special Interest Groups (SIGs) on many topics, ranging from computer architecture and artificial intelligence to software engineering. ACM’s web site also includes a list of the many technical conferences they sponsor around the globe.


The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, or IEEE, is an engineering professional society, founded in 1963. It is comprised of 38 member societies, one of which is the IEEE Computer Society. The IEEE also sponsors many technical conferences around the world each year, and publishes a wide range of magazines and journals. The IEEE Explore digital library, containing millions of technical documents, is available free to Midshipmen through the USNA network. Student membership in the IEEE Computer Society is currently $40.

3 USNA Library Resources for CS/IT

USNA’s web site provides access to digital subscriptions to a wide variety of computing resources, in addition to the ACM and IEEE CS digital libraries. For example, the publisher Springer-Verlag has a large inventory of Computer Science books and journal articles you can access. The library can currently access the digital archives of 708 different journals in the field of Computer Science.

4 Upsilon Pi Epsilon

Founded in 1967, UPE is an international honor society for the computing and information disciplines. USNA has an active chapter, which annually inducts new members from the department. UPE is fully endorsed by the ACM and the IEEE Computer Society.

5 Trident Scholar and Bowman Scholar

Trident Scholar is a program that allows a few exceptional Midshipmen to pursue independent research during their 1/c year. Trident scholars are selected competitively, from across all the departments on the yard, based on the quality of their presented research proposal. Trident scholar applicants must be in the top 10 percent of their class at the end of Fall semester, 2/c year. During the Spring semester of 1/c year, Trident Scholars present their research publications at the annual Trident Scholar conference at USNA. Trident Scholars are eligible for funds from agencies like NRL to purchase equipment for their research. Interested Midshipmen should work with faculty to develop a proposal during the course of 2/c year.

The Bowman Scholar program is an opportunity for Midshipmen to select early for the nuclear navy, during their 2/c year, while also pursuing research. Bowman applicants must have at least a 3.2 QPR and be in the top half of their class by military order of merit. In conjunction with early acceptance into the nuclear power program, selected scholars perform a research internship during 1/c summer, and will usually be able to attend NPS immediately following graduation to obtain a Master’s Degree.

6 Research Classes

Midshipmen interested in pursuing research for course credit may work with faculty to do so. Midshipmen must have a 3.0 or higher QPR, a faculty sponsor, and completed 22 hours of the CS or IT major. Proposals must be approved by the department’s Research Committee. Midshipmen will not normally be approved to conduct more than one research class at a time.

7 Graduate School

There are several scholarship opportunities that allow Midshipmen to attend graduate school immediately following graduation from USNA, en route to a service assignment. Program instructions are available on the USNA intranet, and applications are submitted through MIDS. Program briefings will normally be given around March of 2/c year. If interested, work hard to maximize your QPR and work with your adviser during 3/c year to ensure your matrix supports a particular program.

7.1 VGEP

VGEP allows up to 20 Midshipmen, depending on annual funding, to attend grad school in the local area, beginning in Spring semester 1/c year. Midshipmen must have at least a 3.2 QPR and a “B” or higher in Military Aptitude and Conduct. Midshipmen must be able to complete their normal course of study at USNA by the end of Fall semester, 1/c year. Students in CS or IT will attend Johns Hopkins or the University of Maryland full-time. The M.S. degree is normally attained by the December after USNA graduation.

7.2 Civilian Scholarship Programs

There are a variety of other opportunities for outstanding Midshipmen to study on scholarship at civilian institutions. There are sponsored CS/IT programs at UT-Austin, MIT with Draper Labs, MIT with Lincoln Labs, the University of Pennsylvania, and numerous programs associated with the UK-ISP national competitions (Rhodes, Marshall, Gates, Church, Mitchell, and Rotary) and USNA competitions (Pownall, Fitzgerald, Nolan, and Kings). In addition, the Burke program allows you to apply for delayed graduate studies, usually at NPS, after your first fleet tour.

7.3 Naval Postgraduate School

The Naval Postgraduate School offers Master’s Degree programs in Computer Science and Software Engineering. In addition, its MOVES Institute offers a program in modeling and simulation. Navy and Marine Corps Officers are eligible to enroll, and should work with their fleet community detailers.

8 GRE Info

The GRE, or Graduate Record Examination, is a nationwide exam often used by graduate schools for admissions. There is a “general” GRE and there are subject-specific GREs. If you plan to apply to graduate school in the near future, you should consider taking the GRE and having your scores sent to graduate institutions. Be sure to check whether your graduate school would like to see scores on the general exam, a subject-specific exam (e.g., the Computer Science GRE), or both. A good time to take the GRE is near the end of your 1/c year, or soon after graduation, while the bulk of the material is relatively fresh in your mind.

9 Extracurricular Activities

The department supports one extracurricular activity, known as the Information Warfare Group, currently led by MIDN 1/c Yates. Its member meet to discuss the latest developments in the field, and to occasionally participate in local, national, and international cyber-related competitions.

The department annually participates in the NSA-sponsored Cyber Defense Exercise, or CDX, which normally occurs in April. Preparation for the exercise begins months prior, and the competition is open to all Midshipmen. The event often garners national media attention, and has high visibility with USNA’s leadership.