Student combining two passions in co-op as Dept. of Defense contractor

Jul 23, 2013

Alexander Bush works as a software engineer focusing on submarine simulation for two programs at the Naval Service Warfare Center in Maryland.

Alexander Bush believes he was destined to go to an engineering school, so it’s no surprise he ended up at Kettering University. The only surprise is that he ended up in the Navy after being raised in an Army family.

Alexander BushBush’s parents met at West Point. His father Bill was training to be an electrical engineer and his mother Margaret was training to be an industrial engineer, forecasting early on the fate of Alexander, the eldest of three sons, in a technical vocation. Bush’s dad served in the Army after graduating and now Alex is a contractor for the Department of Defense through his co-op placement at Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

Bush works as a software engineer focusing on submarine simulation for two programs at the Naval Service Warfare Center in Maryland: Submarine Multi-Mission Team Trainer (SMMTT) and the Submarine Bridge Trainer (SBT).

"They don’t like to train cadets in actual submarines because if they make one little mistake while operating it, it can be a multi-million dollar mistake," Bush said. “They like giving training on shore, but they still want to simulate being on a real boat as accurately as possible.”

Alexander Bush (left) also works as an Assistant Station Manager at WKUF-LP Flint 94.3 FM. Jeff Cookson (middle) and Jose Gaviria (right) are also pictured.

The SBT is a giant dome with 18 high-definition projectors which combine to produce a complete 360-degree view from the deck of a submarine complete with mapped images of all the harbors in the United States as training sessions.

“When you are doing those, you have to have all the landmarks mapped,” Bush said. “Not only do we need to have an accurate simulation from a physics standpoint, we have to go out to the harbors to take photographs.”

Many of the United States harbors have been mapped and photographed. Bush applies physics for those harbors to accurately recreate the experience of being onboard a submarine -- everything from the motion of the ocean waves to the physics of light as it moves through the atmosphere.

Bush grew up in Holland, Mich., and chose Kettering University for the co-op experience as well as several scholarship opportunities that made it affordable for him.

“I was a video game player but I never saw myself in game design. I had limited interest when I was in high school and then this job came up and it’s really cool,” Bush said. 

Bush is confident that his unique work experience is exclusive to Kettering University and would not be possible had he chosen another undergraduate institution. SAIC in Bethesda, Md., primarily recruits at Virginia Tech and Kettering, but Kettering students have the advantage of continuing to come back on a rotational basis and be assigned a gradually more expansive workload throughout their co-op experience.

“When I applied to Kettering I had no idea that I would end up in graphics and physics work too,” Bush said. "I’ve combined my two biggest passions in computer work and physics.”

Bush will graduate at the end of Fall 2013 term with a double degree in Computer Science and Applied Physics and hopes to go back to SAIC to work full-time.

“They said they are going to give me an offer. I would love to go back,” Bush said. “It’s enjoyable, it’s challenging work. They give me a lot of time to research. You aren’t micro-managed, they give you the freedom to do what you need to do.”