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A Day In The Life by ROTC

[By MIDN 3/c Robert Block '10] It is 1200 on a Tuesday during IAP, and I have accomplished more than the average MIT student does in an entire school day.

[By MIDN 3/c Robert Block ’10]

It is 1200 on a Tuesday during IAP, and I have accomplished more than the average MIT student does in an entire school day. How have I achieved this? It all started with my alarm at 0530.

I might have woken my roommates, but it was early enough that I’m sure they all fell back to sleep. After a quick shave and a few stumbles over my roommates’ chairs, I was out of the door of my fraternity and on my bike, riding through the cold and wet January air. I rode across the Harvard Bridge, and I sat down in front of the international phones of the MIT Entrepreneurship Center by 0615; just in time to catch the Polish after their lunch break.

After a few hours of inviting Eastern Europeans to the MIT Global Startup Workshop conference, I hopped back on my bike and headed to the Navy ROTC building. During IAP, I am working on a project to improve battalion communications through the installation of a web server. I worked for two hours before hurrying over to the Z-center to make an 11am Jiu Jitsu workout with the American Jiu Jitsu Club.

Now it is noon time, and I have already worked for five hours, and squeezed in an hour-long workout. With the rest of my day, I will work in my UROP lab for a few hours and then do some coding for 6.370, a java programming competition also known as “Battlecode.”

You might ask how this relates to Navy ROTC, or why I am participating in so many activities during a month that many students use as a break from classes and work.

My achievements during IAP, and many of those during the semester, can be attributed to the skills I have learned as a midshipman in the ROTC program. The Navy stresses time management, planning, and pushing oneself to the limit. During my time in NROTC, I have learned how to budget my time efficiently and accomplish my goals, both in my navy life and my life at school. I have learned that getting an early start isn’t always a bad thing, and that taking an hour out of the day to maintain a good level of physical activity can make me more productive.

The Navy ROTC program at MIT also encourages midshipmen to participate in on- and off-campus activities. It is understood by the staff and other midshipmen that sometimes the best leadership training can come from applying the skills learned in ROTC to other activities, and it is because of this that the NROTC program doesn’t overwhelm midshipmen with time commitments. While my Navy commitments do take a significant amount of time, they do not prevent me from taking advantage of the amazing opportunities in clubs and UROPs on campus.

Navy ROTC at MIT is the best of both worlds: I have the endless opportunities provided by the MIT community, and I have a professional Navy atmosphere to prepare me for my future as an officer in the fleet.

MIDN 3/c Robert Block is a sophomore at MIT in the Nuclear Science and Engineering Department. Feel free to contact him with questions about MIT or the Navy ROTC program via his email, reblock [at] mit [dot] edu.

3 responses to “A Day In The Life”

  1. WTBSAlumni says:

    I spent two years in the Navy ROTC program at MIT back in 77-79. I wound up leaving the program when I transferred to BU and decided to major in broadcasting, but the two years in ROTC were a great experience. Spent one January in San Diego on a destroyer (USS Waddell), and it was a blast (especially the target practice) smile

  2. Nihar says:

    Hey…Im quite into programming myself, and I was intrigued by the 6.370 competition you mentioned…any details on what competition is about? I mean, what does a winning “battlecode” require?

    N a quick question – Is Navy ROTC at MIT is exclusively for US permanent residents? Or is everyone welcome to apply?

  3. AFCadre says:


    To answer your question, the ROTC programs allow anyone to participate for the first two years usually. However, to receive a commission you must be a US citizen.