The United States Military Academy, also commonly known as West Point, can trace its roots back to 1801 and the start of Thomas Jefferson’s presidency after originally serving as a fort under General George Washington.
Colonel Sylvanus Thayer, Superintendent of the school from 1817 to 1833, made civil engineering the foundation of the curriculum and, up until the Civil War, graduates were largely responsible for the major infrastructure work in the US. The curriculum broadened after the Civil War, First and Second World Wars to meet strategic and technological demands on the military, while the college roll increased, most notably under President Johnson in 1964. In 1976, West Point enrolled its first female students, meanwhile in the intervening decades the subject range has expanded to include sciences and humanities subjects.
Located in West Point, Orange County in New York State, it is 50 miles north of New York City and lies on the western bank of the Hudson River. The campus was predominantly shaped in a neogothic style by construction work in the early 1900s, with many buildings in grey/black granite. The grounds are home to numerous monuments of historical interest including the Washington Monument, Thayer Monument and Eisenhower Monument.
Entrance is rigorously assessed over academic qualifications and fitness levels and is is stipulated that candidates be unmarried, between the ages of 17 and 23 and with no dependents.
Based on a baccalaureate system, USMA offers a full-time, four-year undergraduate programme that ranges over arts, sciences, and professions. The most popular of the majors are foreign languages, management information systems, history, economics, and mechanical engineering. How a student/cadet is ranked is dependent on a three-way split between academic performance, military leadership performance and physical fitness, and in that order.
Students/cadets experience an extremely full and active life over a range of sports and activities, benefitting from excellent facilities and some well-observed traditions, for example the Goat-Engineer American football game.
There are also a huge number of notable alumni. These include astronaut Buzz Aldrin, former US president Dwight D. Eisenhower, US Army officer during the American Civil War George Armstrong Custer and former secretary of state Alexander Haig.