By Bethany Buchanan Bogacki | Program Branch Assistant, Public Affairs
The United States Coast Guard used to have innovation expos, said Caroline Howard, the deputy unit leader for the Auxiliary University Programs unit at William and Mary. And, just once a year, innovators from across the country would congregate and share their inspired plans.
But innovation is something that happens every day, the college sophomore said, and anyone can be an innovator.
During her summer internship working with the strategic development and innovation groups at Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington, D.C., Howard helped launch Enterprise Common Ideation Platform (ECIP) Connect, a virtual common area where any member of the Coast Guard can offer up creative solutions and help fine-tune others.
“This really pays homage to the idea that innovation is something that happens every single day, not just once a year,” said Howard, who is double majoring in chemistry and environmental science and policy. “... It’s good to see everyone all over the country working together.”
Howard said the site will close to new entries Nov. 19 and that top Coast Guard officials will review and pick up projects from among those shared.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to use another crowd-sourcing platform for the Coast Guard in the future other than a prototype,” she said.
Howard also had the opportunity to interview strategists from across the country for the Evergreen Program, the Coast Guard’s long-term, scenario-based planning effort that imagines and addresses the future’s challenges. “Are there things we can do now to prepare for those things?” she said is the question the service seeks to answer.
Her discussions with a diverse number of strategists, she said, allowed her to understand “how they had used past Evergreen Reports and and what they could use with new reports. …
“Before my internship I had never even heard of scenario-based planning, so the whole thing for me was really fantastic. It’s a fantastic way to do strategic planning,” she said.
Howard’s summer apparently revolved around planning for the future, helping to quicken a community of thinkers to collaborate and create a better Coast Guard and equipping the organization with the tools to solve future problems today. As for her future?
She’s planning on applying to Officer Candidate School after she graduates from William and Mary, and she said she’s interested in becoming a 65 helicopter pilot. Working on the Dolphin, which is deployable on cutters, she said, is “something that would be absolutely incredible.”
Her internship, Howard said, “completely renewed my desire to be in the Coast Guard -- which was really strong to begin with.”
“Ms. Howard has done really extraordinary work and has learned so much that she’ll be able to carry forward into her leadership at Unit William and Mary and her future in the Coast Guard,” said Director of Strategic Planning Andrew Welch. “She makes a fine example of the good things that happen when we put our AUP students in a position to share their real potential.”
Howard, who received a commendation for her work over the summer, said she’d like to coordinate a scenario-based planning workshop for her peers in her unit at William and Mary, which is located in Williamsburg, Va.
“It definitely helps with a decision you have to make in the now, and it’s a process you can use in any situation,” she said. “I think it’s a really great process to use, and I really learned a lot of great things at my internship that can really be scaled down and used at the unit level.”
Howard said she really appreciated the people she worked with during her internship and what they taught her, especially Lieutenant Commander Molly Waters.
“My director supervisor, Lieutenant Commander Molly Waters, she was an absolute inspiration to me. She is a fantastic officer, a fantastic cutterman and a fantastic person. And I believe that it’s people like her that make the Coast Guard great and America great.”