By U.S. Army ROTC Cadet Andrew Gallagher and U.S. Military Academy Cadet Danielle Martinez
FORT SHAFTER, HI - Editor’s Note: The Honolulu District hosted two U.S. Army cadets this summer as part of the Cadet District Engineer Program (CDEP). This program allows ROTC and U.S. Military Academy cadets the opportunity to gain first-hand construction and engineering experience with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). Cadets are typically assigned for a month of training at USACE Districts to assist with work on civil, mechanical, electrical, or environmental engineering projects. The program provides them exposure to the USACE mission and educates them about future career opportunities. In their own words, here is what these cadets experienced:
USMA Cadet Danielle Martinez (Civil Engineering, West Point):
During my studies, professors would always speak about the Corps, but we were never given a complete description of how much the organization does. Thanks to this month-long experience with the District, I have gained a solid understanding of the USACE mission.
I was assigned to work at the South Range Resident Office where the engineers taught me the whole construction process. I received an excellent tutorial on the Resident Management System (RMS) that the Corps uses to compile important documents, like daily reports.
The South Range quality assurance representatives (QARs) brought me to a quality control meeting where I watched how the Corps interacts with the contractors on various project issues. After reviewing the plan drawings and becoming comfortable with the project, I went to the actual construction site and began assisting with safety and quality assurance. I observed the testing of air ducts, vault doors, and much more. The hands-on / on-the-job training aspect of this experience was the most beneficial since it brought the whole construction management process to life.
Since I am highly interested in hydrology, the Resident Office gave me the opportunity to visit the vast culverts that are located on the project site and I later reviewed a submittal for a change to the culverts. This included the use of the Hydrologic Engineering Centers River Analysis System (HEC-RAS) program. It was extremely exciting for me to work with a software program I used in my college hydrology class and see it being applied to a large scale project.
My month-long experience working with the Corps was rewarding and educational since I was able to use my college engineering knowledge and apply it outside the classroom. Being able to work alongside the engineers on the South Range project was a valuable learning tool which cadets can’t get at the academy. I look forward to returning to school and sharing all aspects of the Corps with my fellow civil engineers.
ROTC Cadet Andrew Gallagher (Mechanical Engineering, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Worcester, Mass.):
It has been a unique opportunity and a highly rewarding internship for cadets like us to see and understand Army engineering. My exposure to the District’s work sites and construction techniques will aid my college learning process.
All of the engineering personnel I interacted with were more than willing to show me what their jobs were and how they meshed with projects. During my first week, I attended meetings for the Building 556 project. These meetings were great for me since I was able to see how engineers addressed problems or issues during the construction and renovation phase. I also visited the new Soldiers barracks project site where I was introduced to the Corps’ use of Insulated Concrete Foam (ICF).
As a mechanical engineer, the USACE civil engineering technique of utilizing ICF was a great learning experience for me. I also attended a Red Zone meeting where I learned how the timing of different construction tasks in the final months of a project get done in order to properly close out a project.
In addition to these two projects, I also visited the Warriors in Transition site and later was added to this project’s engineering staff. My time at the District was very beneficial in teaching me about the Engineer Regiment, the Army, and Army engineering processes.
I’m grateful for this opportunity and would encourage other cadets to apply. I look forward to branch into the Engineer Regiment and hope to once again see many of the Soldiers I met while at the District.
Having cadets participate in the CDEP not only benefits the individual cadet, but also benefits USACE. The program exposes future officers to the Corps and its capabilities and helps them consider future assignment opportunities.