# Using Math In The US Navy

After a tour as an enlisted US Marine I went to college on a NROTC scholarship.  Following graduation I had a degree in math and a commission in the US Navy- it was an accomplishment of a lifetime. One of the requirements to be a Navy Officer is you had to have at least 1 year of calculus, physics and computer science. As I started taking calculus as a freshman in college I decided to keep studying math and became a math major. My degree in math really helped me as a Navy Officer.  I was trained as a Navy Surface Warfare Officer- we are the officers that “fight” ships as seen in this picture.  My job in the Navy was challenging and my math degree came in “handy” on more than a few occasions.  Here is a quick look into some of the ways I used math in the Navy.

Engineering

My first ship assignment was propulsion plant engineer.  I was responsible for all the systems that produced power to keep the ship underway.  Needless to say there was a lot of engineering training that was involved in my job.  My technical duties were much easier because I understood the language of math and science. I was able to apply theories and concept into real life trouble shooting and solutions.  Although I was not doing calculus when managing ship board systems I could skillfully investigate a very technical issue with my engineering and math background.  After four years of studying abstract algebra, multi-variable calculus and differential equations I was very comfortable with the complex and challenging.

Critical Thinking / Decision Making

As a Surface Warfare Officer I was also trained to be the Officer Of The Deck (OOD).  This meant I was in control of the ship driving it when the Captain was away.  Some of the most exciting moments I had in the military is when I was standing watch as the OOD.  I had to make critical decisions and errors could cost people their lives.  When you’re in total control operating a Navy war ship you have to take in large amounts of complex data and make quick decisions.  My math training helped develop my ability to study data and draw actionable conclusions.  Making sense of raw data and solving problems was all I did as a math major. When I deployed to the Persian Gulf and operated the ship in harm’s way I was very confident in my abilities to analyze my surroundings (via lots of data) and make good decisions.