Class of 2007
United States Coast Guard (USCG)
Beating Hurricane Katrina – Neither Wind Nor Rain deter this Coastie from his IPT degree. (written by Margaret Scott, originally published in the spring 2007 College of Engineering Newsletter.)
Sometimes, finishing graduate school takes longer than expected. Just ask United States Coast Guard Lt. Commander Jerry Hubbard who will finally receive his Master of Science degree in Instructional & Performance Technology this May after delays in 2004 by Hurricane Ivan and in 2005 by Hurricane Katrina.
“I ended up having to drop out both of those fall semesters because it was just impossible to keep up,” he said.
Hubbard’s main job in the Coast Guard is to get deep water ports open following hurricanes so that goods can move again. With the massive damage during two record-breaking, back-to-back hurricane seasons, he found himself working 16-18 hour days for weeks at a time clearing debris and remarking waterways to get traffic moving.
“We focus hard on reopening the deep water ports for deep draft vessels, and the Gulf Intra-Coastal Waterway to allow barge traffic to move along the coast,” Hubbard said. “The public infrastructure depends on these waterways. The Florida panhandle receives a majority of their fuel by barge, and coal reaches the power plants by barge. So the waterways being open to commerce is critical to human health and safety.”
Last fall in 2006, Hubbard didn’t sign up for any classes anticipating another dangerous hurricane season. Instead, storms were less severe and he probably could have finished his coursework instead of waiting until spring. But this time, there aren’t any barriers.
“Now, I’ve only got four weeks left on an internship and then I’m finished,” the 21-year veteran said recently. “You know if I’d taken a class in the fall, we’d surely have had a major hurricane.”
The 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons were among the deadliest and most destructive in history. Hurricane Ivan caused $13 billion in damage in the United States and killed 92 people while Hurricane Katrina caused more than $81 billion in damage across Louisiana and Mississippi. Katrina battered communities with wind, rain and storm surge and killed 1,836 people in seven states.
Such terrible storms keep Hubbard’s Coast Guard unit very busy with search and rescue efforts to save lives. From his Mobile, Alabama station, the Incident Command System the Coast Guard employs can find units stationed as far away as Texas while dealing with a severe storm. Hubbard says his unit’s ability to succeed in their mission can be dependent on the support structure, which is likely to be damaged. They have to work diligently to restore those assets and often it is in a temporary mode until time permits permanent repairs. He manages a large division that provides administration, supply and engineering support for 19 small field units and more than 700 people, which gives him numerous process and opportunities for human performance improvement.
Hubbard joined the Coast Guard in 1985, was selected for Officer Candidate School in 1992, when he switched to the environmental protection field. When he decided to pursue a graduate degree he looked at the list of Coast Guard approved programs. “I called numerous Coast Guard students who had studied in the Department of Instructional & Performance Technology at Boise State and they provided strong endorsements for the program, so I joined.”
Despite the hurricane delays, Hubbard is very glad he persisted. “I consistently find that my education in Human Performance Technology provides a framework for improving our world of work,” Hubbard said.