Powering Nukes to Programming at Bridgewater

Tom Foley

Every person who comes to Bridgewater State, whether as a student or faculty, has a story that led them here, a life they lived before becoming a bear. For some, it’s straight forward, graduating from high school in the spring and coming to their number one choice, BSU, that same fall. For others maybe the path here was a little less direct, attending another school or community college before attending BSU, and for others still, the path that led them to BSU may have been a lot longer all together.

At age 30 Sean Butrica, a veteran studying Computer Science and working in the Veteran Center here on campus, is a tad bit older than what one might picture the average college student to look like, yet younger than the average age of veterans we have on campus, who are usually between 30-45 years old, Sean told. Sean joined the Air Force out of high school, where he was sent to North Dakota for a job that would terrify most people, powering the silos of nuclear warheads. “We had 3-4 sites on this base, and I never went down into the actual silos, but I had to make sure they had enough power running to them at all times.” Sean’s other responsibilities included operating an Aircraft Arresting System (AAS), which Sean described as “anytime a plane landing at the base was coming in too fast, we’d use a line to catch the landing gear of the plane and slow it down.”Another responsibility of Sean’s was to set up power at field bases that were meant to be hastily constructed in the event of a nuclear strike. “90% of the staff would stay at the actual base, while my team and about 10% of the base’s staff would fly to remote location like a field and establish a base that would still be able to communicate with the outside world in case the main base was struck by a nuclear weapon.”. While in the Air Force, Sean would also accompany his power generating equipment across the globe, traveling to countries far and wide.

After leaving the Air Force in 2013, Sean attended both UMASS Boston and Massasoit Community College before starting Computer Science at BSU. In addition to working in the Veteran’s Center through a partnership with the V.A., Sean acts as the treasurer for the Fellowship of Military Scholars, a self-funded club on campus for veteran students who attend BSU. The fellowship volunteers for activities like maintaining the headstones and flags on veterans’ graves in local cemeteries, and planning activities around campus geared specifically towards veterans.

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