NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Feb. 27, 2015) – A local high school sophomore 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.
Michael Lee, 10th grader at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tenn., is interested in pursuing engineering in college. So he met with Jimmy Waddle, Nashville District Engineering and Construction Branch, and Maj. Brad Morgan, Nashville District deputy commander, for a briefing and a tour at the district headquarters located in the Estes Kefauver Federal Building.
Waddle guided Lee through various engineering offices at the Nashville District Headquarters. Following the opening orientation, he met experts from the structural, mechanical, water resources, water management, and cost engineering sections of the Engineering Branch. Moving from one engineering section to another, he gained an overall better understanding of what it means to be a military-support and civil-works engineer in the Corps.
In the afternoon, Lee visited Center Hill Dam in Lancaster, Tenn., and took a tour of the hydropower plant and construction site where the district is installing a concrete barrier wall deep into the dam’s foundation to stop seepage. Lee interacted with the engineers who operate and maintain the facility.
Lee said he wanted to visit with the Corps so he could learn about engineering and the organization, and the visit provided him different perspectives that will help him as he chooses a degree program and seeks to enter a career field.
“I want to be an engineer and 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 from people that work in those fields,” said Lee. “I have enjoyed all the information provided for me but the tour of the Center Hill Dam is absolutely the best.”
“It’s great to have him at the district,” Waddle said. “The purpose for these types of tours is to provide direct insight to actual engineering jobs and how they relate to bridges, roads and projects across the country.”
District engineers also gave Lee a brief orientation on the roles of civilian workers and military personnel; he then received a more in-depth look at the district’s history, branches, and project locations and purposes.
Waddle accompanied Lee and said it was an excellent opportunity for him to learn about the district’s civil work projects and engineering expertise.
“I think the more we can expose our youth to different career fields the better off it is for our organization in the long run because we can help them start thinking about being an engineer at an earlier age and kind of help direct their path that way,” Waddle said. “This also helps the Corps of Engineers to get our plug in for jobs, explain kind of what we do and how we help out in the Nashville area and around the country.”
At the headquarters, Lee also met with Mike Zoccola, chief of Civil Design Branch; Ben Rohrbach, Nashville District Hydrology and Hydraulics Branch chief; Randy Kerr, civil engineer in Water Management; Cullum Miller, economist; and Jeff Flowers, Mid- Cumberland Power Project manager.
Waddle said everyone involved with mentoring Lee wanted to expose them to the Corps’ engineering mission so they could use the experience to help make life decisions.
Kerr said it was excellent talk with Lee and for him to learn from working engineers who could share real world experience and provide key information that could impact his decision on how to become an engineer.
“I get joy out of seeing young students come to visit the power house and see how it operates,” said Flowers. “It offers students a practical approach to basic science and engineering, which helps them understand what engineers do and how college classes relate to real-world engineering.”
Waddle said everyone involved with mentoring Lee at the district provided an excellent overview of engineering and exposed him to the Corps’ engineering mission so he could use the experience to help make future college decisions.
“A lot of people know what they want to do and just don’t know the road to get there and we are glad we could provide him with this road map,” Waddle 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.
At the end of the tour Lee said understanding the whole concept of a dam, the hydropower process is mind blowing and he is appreciative of the chance to shadow Nashville District engineers. He said he plans to pursue the engineering field.
Morgan said the shadow program is a success because engineers can provide students with a comprehensive overview of the types of classes, schools and degrees in math and science needed that translates to an actual job.
“It’s a great opportunity for Lee to have a hands-on experience and see what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does in terms of the full spectrum of everything we do,” Morgan said.
For more information about Montgomery Bell Academy, go to http://www.montgomerybell.edu. For news, updates and information about the Nashville District, please follow and “Like” us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and Center Hill Dam at http://www.facebook.com/centerhilldam.