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Say What?: Pittsburgh hosts NROTC event

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Ever since General Douglas MacArthur established the requirement that all members of the service academies participate in an athletic activity, athletic challenges have been used to push the future leaders of the United States military. On Sept. 29, the Carnegie Mellon NROTC unit gathered with teams from the NROTC units at Villanova, Penn State, and Penn to hold the very first Pennsylvania Military Excellence Competition (PENN MEC).

MEC events are an opportunity for NROTC units to display their athletic prowess by having their midshipmen participate in track and swimming events, a basketball tournament, a Marine Corps physical fitness test, and an 8K trail run. Another purpose of a MEC is for midshipmen to build esprit de corps by cheering for their shipmates and engaging in a little good-natured competition with other NROTC units. While MECs take place across the country, never before has Pittsburgh hosted such an event. This year’s PENN MEC marked the first time that a MEC was held specifically for the four NROTC units in the state of Pennsylvania.

The concept of a Pennsylvania-only MEC was first proposed during the last school year after Captain Bowman, the Commanding Officer of Carnegie Mellon’s NROTC, saw that the NROTC units from Pennsylvania were consistently in first or second place at the other Northeast MECs. Carnegie Mellon’s NROTC unit then took it upon itself to coordinate the first PENN MEC to finally settle who the top unit in the state was.

Most MECs award prizes for each of the events held throughout the competition. A unique aspect of the PENN MEC was that only one prize was awarded. The team that earned the most points overall throughout the day’s competitions was awarded the PENN MEC Cup. Even in events where individuals competed, such as the 8K, points counted for the team, not the individual. The PENN MEC was unique in its particularly strong focus on getting midshipmen to work, train, and compete for something larger than individual gain.

It was a close race for the most team points, going back and forth after each event. In the end, the Penn State Battalion pulled out a win only a hair ahead in the competition and was awarded the first PENN MEC Cup.

While our NROTC team did not take top honors, with continued campus support, we look forward to hosting this event in the years to come. We are proud that Pittsburgh was able to hold an event that serves to foster the type of interaction between midshipmen that is critical for developing officers for a United States fleet.