NASHVILLE, Tenn. (March 1, 2013) – Two local high school sophomores shadowed a number of very experienced engineers today at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District to learn more about the jobs and educational requirements of the career field.
Jack Sonday and Greg Quesinberry, 10th graders from Montgomery Bell Academy, are part of a program called “Sophomore Youth Leadership Opportunities,” which affords them the chance to visit with an affiliated organization of their choosing to explore career options.
Capt. Corey T. Wolffe, project officer at Cheatham Dam in Ashland City, Tenn., guided these students through offices at the Nashville District Headquarters and then to see a power plant, dam, navigation lock, and a construction site at Cheatham.
At the headquarters, the students met with Lt. Col. James A. DeLapp, Nashville District commander; Ron Carter, chief of the Civil and Structural Section; Rob Baulsir, a mechanical engineer in the Electrical and Mechanical Section; Brantley Thames, chief of the Water Resources Section; Randy Kerr, a civil engineer in Water Management; and Doug Mullendore, Environmental Services Branch chief. They were also able to meet with Cory Morgan, a Corps engineer and also an alumnus of MBA.
Carter said it was good to have these young people visit and interact with working engineers who could share real world experience and give them tips or a roadmap of sorts on how to become an engineer.
“When students are going through their science and mathematics education it is very difficult for them to understand how these studies relate to college and real-world engineering,” Carter said. “We participate in several forms of STEM from teaching Cub Scout Badges, getting involved in eCybermission Middle School competitions, high school shadow programs, college project mentoring, judging college technical competitions and summer student engineer aids. All these activities work to enhance the students’ interest in science and engineering as well as expose the students to the Army Corps of Engineers.”
This practical approach of interaction is what Sonday and Quesinberry said they liked best during their visit to the Nashville District.
Sonday said he wanted to visit with the Corps so he could learn about engineering and the organization. He said being able to shadow men like DeLapp and Wolffe gave him valuable insight into what they do for a living.
“It helps me see what I hope to accomplish… what I want to do,” Sonday said about the SYLO Program and getting to meet with engineers in the Nashville District. “Most people don’t get this opportunity to decide this early and next year I’m going to be a junior and I have to start deciding on colleges. I have to start deciding on what path to take in life and the earlier I start the better.”
Quesinberry received several technical briefings and said afterwards that the Corps is more than just part of the U.S. Army. It has more civilians than uniformed members and supplies the nation with its infrastructure, he said.
“I found out more about not only the field I’m interested in, which is civil engineering, but I also found out about different kinds of engineering,” Quesinberry said.
Wolffe said everyone involved with mentoring these young men wanted to expose them to the Corps’ engineering mission so they could use the experience to help make life decisions.
“A lot of people know what they want to do. They don’t necessarily know how to get there,” Wolffe said. “And so by having them here today it does give them an opportunity to maybe talk to the different engineers, not only about what they do, but maybe their studies, what different certifications and things like that” will help them reach their goals.
The Nashville District is committed to teaming with organizations like MBA to strengthen science, technology, engineering and mathematics education programs that inspire current and future generations of young people to pursue careers in these career fields. For more information on how to set up participation in a similar program, please visit the district’s STEM web site.
Sonday’s parents John and Kim are residents of Nashville, Tenn. Quesinberry’s parents Scott and Diane are residents of Gallatin. His sister Rachel is currently a junior at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
For more information about Montgomery Bell Academy, go to http://www.montgomerybell.edu
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