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Growing Up Between Capstone Projects Day

“Strangely, this is kind of how I felt six long years ago.”

Finally a senior in college and this once familiar wave of anxiety and hesitation suddenly comes over me. Strangely, this is kind of how I felt six long years ago. All I want to do is graduate without any hiccups and actually start a new chapter in my life. Unsurprisingly, there are obstacles standing between me and graduation.

Of all of these hurdles I’ve somehow managed my way through, this one hit a little home… More specifically, high school circa 2012.

Rewind through what seemed to be a plethora of failed relationships, what felt like a million credit hours, and countless all-nighters and there I was.

It was finally my senior year of high school and all I can remember wanting was to graduate without any hiccups. I was very anxious and excited to start this new chapter in my life. However, before reaching that light at the end of the tunnel, there was this similar event stood in my way.

CAPSTONE. PROJECTS. DAY.

(Specifically, the fact that the event was coming up shortly and I was slacking –classic.)
A capstone project is a culmination of effort over a particular research topic or on how to solve a current existing problem. It’s a great opportunity for students to focus their attention towards a particular field of interest and sometimes even get involved in that field. East Tech does a wonderful job at exposing students to opportunities to learn, grow, and gives them a taste of what they may very well be doing in college.

As a senior in House 1, I was highly interested at the time in joining the medical profession. At the same time, I was also highly fascinated in being in the military. Marrying the two ideas together, I wrote a paper on whether post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was purely an issue of one’s psyche or if there was some kind of physical alteration in the brain from the stimulus. I felt amazing after turning in what I felt was the longest paper I had ever written in my life (a hefty six pages. Haha.) I proceeded to put together a trifold presentation, an interview I conducted with a psychiatrist, and some Army ROTC Personal Protective Equipment I borrowed from my older sister. Good times.
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Part of my Senior Project in 2012.

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Everyone looking great for Senior Projects Day.

United States Military Academy at West Point. Similarly, USMA has a designated day where the seniors get to exhibit to the rest of the school what they had been working tirelessly on for two semesters. This year was my chance to present what my team had created. Under the Department of Systems Engineering, my capstone team consisted of three other cadets and was led by an experienced advisor which had invaluable insights as to how we should approach our work.
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My amazing capstone team. At our first conference. We were presented an award for “Best Paper” for our track.

The project objective was to model and simulate the processes at the United States Army’s largest rotary wing repair plating shop in order to facilitate production decision-making (try saying that three times fast). In short, we saved the Army over a quarter of a million in direct labor costs in creating
the model and with the tool’s implementation, can save the Army millions. Along with the creation of the model itself, we produced a 52 page user manual and 58 page interim technical report for our stakeholders. Unfortunately, six pages was not going to cut it this time around. The best part of finishing the project was being able to present at different conferences alongside graduate students and presenting our work to PhDs and personnel currently working in the
field. Being able to receive critiques from these people provided feedback on what we did well and what we could have done better with the project.

I credit my ability to work effectively on teams due to the multitude of experiences I had from sports and my time at East Tech. Real, complex problems are scarcely ever tackled by one person. By placing an emphasis on collaboration and effective communication, students at this school are able to
find out what works and what doesn’t.
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Capstone Day,2018. The team took in “Best Presentation” for our track. Pictured with COL (Ret.) Shane Kimbrough, USMA ’89.

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Paulo Almeida

Graduated from the class of 2012 in the Medical Program.

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