One of the nation's premier military academies may be an unusual place to find a technology start-up, especially one about 200 years in the making. However, that's exactly what's happening at West Point.
"We have been teaching military history since 1818," said West Point History Department Chair Col. Ty Seidule. Now, the school is doing it with a new twist.
"We had to have a sustainable model," for bringing military history fully into the 21st century, he added, "where at least some of the revenue will come back in and support the text going forward."
A digital revolution has altered the way today's students experience the two-semester requirement "History of the Military Art," thanks to a unique entrepreneurial venture between the United States Military Academy at West Point and Rowan Technology Solutions.
For three semesters, 1,200 West Point cadets and 30 instructors have been, essentially, beta-testing a 71-chapter interactive e-book, featuring animated battle maps, data visualizations, and text integrated with photo and video material.
The goal of such an immersion experience for the class, dubbed "Mil Art," was to "keep the smell of gunpowder in the course," said Col. Seidule.
And that less-staid approach to teaching thousands of years of history and military strategy—some at West Point joke the class covers history "from Plato to NATO" —is an early hit. "There was a 46 percent increase in the percentage of A's over the five-year running average," said Col. Seidule.