By Dino W. Buchanan
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Honolulu District Public Affairs
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii - The Honolulu District hosted two U.S. Army Cadets during July as part of the Cadet District Engineer Program (CDEP). This program allows West Point and ROTC Cadets an opportunity to gain first-hand construction and engineering experience with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
CDEP Cadets are generally assigned for several weeks of training during summer break at USACE Districts to work on civil, mechanical, electrical, or environmental engineering projects. The program exposes them to USACE missions and helps them explore potential active duty opportunities within the U.S. Army Engineer Branch profession.
The two Cadets assigned to the Honolulu District were each afforded a familiarization opportunity to work on-site for one week at the District’s Quad B Renovation project at Schofield Barracks and then the Combat Aviation Brigade Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects at Wheeler Army Airfield. The Schofield Barracks Quads were built back in the 1920s and the Corps is painstakingly ensuring that the renovation work is historically correct and reflects the barracks as they were originally built.
“The CDEP helped me understand the roles and options available in the Corps of Engineers and the different opportunities that are available to officers as far as broadening their experience and their engineering background,” said Cadet Walker Glunz, a civil engineering major at the Pennsylvania State University, where in April 2015 he became the battalion commander of the Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lion ROTC Battalion.
Glunz said working alongside Corps project managers and engineers and project contractors on the jobsite was a great help to him in understanding the engineer jobsite relationships.
“Being able to assist project managers in discussing and analyzing problems and working through them in conjunction with the project engineers and contractors - as a team – was especially beneficial to me in understanding how difficult issues are discussed and resolved,” Glunz said.
“On the Quad B project, one of the Corps Construction Control Representatives and I worked together for the first two days devising a plan to bring the window framing up to current building code. Going through the process from start to finish onsite and producing a needed result was very enlightening.”
Glunz has extensive experience in landscaping, having worked for his family's landscaping company Pine Creek Country Gardens and Landscaping since 2007, and continued working there throughout high school and during the summers in college. While there he also learned the concepts and skills behind the design and installation of commercial and residential landscaping, patios, and retaining walls. He also became proficient at operating and maintaining equipment including dump trucks, excavators, and skid loaders.
While on the project sites Glunz said he discussed technical skills about engineer careers with the professionals.
“I spent a lot of time talking to the project managers about the concepts I have been learning in my civil engineering classes and how they apply in the field,” Glunz said. “I’m very interested in the construction management field, so I also utilized some time talking to the contractors as well.”
Cadet Calvin Kiesewetter, who attends the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, said the CDEP gave him a different perspective about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“I kind of had an idea that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was more about doing civil works construction, and I really didn’t know anything about the command, so the CDEP gave me the opportunity to see USACE first-hand,” said Kiesewetter, who will be entering his final year at West Point and is studying civil engineering with a focus on geotechnical and material science.
Kiesewetter also found the hands-on, on-site USACE experience beneficial in enhancing his working engineering knowledge.
“Just going to all of the various meetings between engineers, contractors and program managers helped give me a better vision as to how USACE works and operates on the job site,” Kiesewetter said. “I found that even though the two projects (Quad B and CAB Phase 1 and 2) are being managed by USACE, each site has its own working dynamic between the engineers and contractors.”
Kiesewetter added that having already taken several classes in construction management helped him understand the concepts being presented in the field.
“Seeing how detailed and focused the engineers are about management on the job site is an eye-opener, for sure,” he said. “Seeing the practical application of principles I learned in class that were being utilized here helped me appreciate the attention to detail needed on the job site every day.”
Before going out to the project sites District Deputy Commander Maj. Brennan Wallace provided the Cadets with an overview of the District’s various missions and how the District supports the U.S. Army. During their USACE familiarization, the Cadets also met with a broad cross section of people representing every department (Project Managers, Contracting, etc.) in order to show how USACE works.
Following their two week familiarization at Honolulu District, the Cadets moved on to familiarization sessions with the 249th Engineer Detachment (Prime Power) and the 84th Engineer Brigade at Schofield Barracks. During their whirlwind three-week familiarization, the Glunz and Kiesewetter were personally invited to join new U.S. Army Pacific Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Christopher Hughes for an early morning PT session, and also participated in staff ride with Honolulu District Commander Lt. Col. Christopher W. Crary to various historical military sites on Oahu.
According to Maj. Wallace, “having cadets participate in the CDEP not only benefits the individual cadet, but also benefits USACE and the Engineer Regiment. The program exposes future officers to the Corps and its capabilities and helps them consider future assignment opportunities.”
Cadet Kiesewetter, who intends to join the Engineer Regiment and potentially become a USACE Officer, said even though having an engineering degree or major is a prerequisite for the CDEP, Cadets “would greatly benefit from having a few classes in basic engineering, scheduling or project management” before accepting a spot in the CDEP.
“I would advise eligible Cadets to come out and see it first hand,” Glunz said. “You may think you understand what the Corps of Engineers do, but seeing and working with the Corps in the field gives you a greater appreciation for their work and what career opportunities are available to you after graduation.”
Editor’s Note: Cadet Walker Glunz is from Friedensburg, Pennsylvania and Cadet Calvin V. Kiesewetter is from Willard, Missouri.