I had the opportunity to work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Charleston District as an intern, learning about the role of the Corps in the Army and gaining valuable engineering field experience. I spent time working with each division in the District shadowing and assisting the Corps professionals on job sites.
I began my time with the regulatory division going to pre-application meetings, performing delineations in the field, conducting compliance inspections, and ensuring the protection of wetland environments. My most memorable experience with this division was attending a pre-application meeting for a customer who wanted to construct floating cages for commercial oyster cultivation. The District’s and environmental representatives’ analyses showed that the proposed design posed a threat to marine life. However, I proposed a design change that eliminated the environmental threat and saved the customer money. The Corps, environmental agencies, and customer agreed with my engineering solution, deciding to implement it in the project.
Following my time with regulatory, I went to work with the operations division at the Construction and Survey Annex field office and at the St. Stephen Powerhouse. Navigation gave me the opportunity to help calibrate the Survey Vessel Heiselman in the harbor and work with biologists tracking the possible effects of the Post 45 harbor deepening project on plant life. I also toured Fort Sumter and visited the Cooper River Rediversion Project with the 133rd Construction Management Team from Fort Bragg. I found the tour of the CRRP to be one of my most interesting experiences. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the mechanics of the dam and learning how a fish lift operates.
My last assignment before concluding my stay with the District was working with members in the construction division at Fort Jackson performing quality assurance inspections and learning about the role of a project engineer. I had a great time observing the different job sites and learning how the District oversees the contractors completing the projects. The work at Fort Jackson piqued my interest because I saw the engineering and design process applied through construction.
An internship with the Charleston District was a great developmental tool for both my engineering education and my future career as an Army Officer. I have many takeaways from this experience . The first is that all the work done in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires a huge amount of teamwork, not only within the divisions of the Corps itself, but also with outside partner organizations. In order to reach successful project completion, each division in the Corps must work together and the job contractors must be willing to cooperate. Building on this point, I saw the great job the Corps does interacting positively with customers and contractors. The positive rapport the Corps builds with its partner organizations encourages these organizations to continue to work with the Corps in an agreeable fashion.
My final takeaway relates to employees in the Charleston District. All the people I shadowed or spoke with are passionate about their job. Because they are passionate about their work, they do great work. The atmosphere within this district far exceeds what I have seen in any corporate business firms and I thank everyone for helping make my experience rewarding and enjoyable.