Archive

Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous “neat stuff”’ Category

National Engineers Week

February 21st, 2013

Across the country, February 17 – 23 is being celebrated as National Engineers Week.  National Engineers Week was founded in 1951 and the dates are chosen each year to coincide with the birthday of President George Washington – America’s first engineer.  A gentleman farmer of inherited wealth and limited formal education, Washington acquired credible surveying skills early in life, but excelled as a manager, strategist and leader.

In the midst of the Revolutionary War, on June 9, 1778, at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, General Washington issued a call for engineers and military engineering education.  As President, Washington established a Corps of Artillerists and Engineers in 1794 to be educated and stationed at West Point in New York, which later become the US Military Academy at West Point. He promoted construction of roads, canals, the Nation’s Capital, water works, docks and ports, and directed a growing nation toward technical advancements, invention and education.

National Engineers Week is an important time to reinforce the need for improving our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education and inclusion efforts.  By 2020, the U.S. expects more than 2.8 million STEM job opening – and we will need to increase the number of college graduates by approximately 1 million more STEM professionals to meet the demand.  Today, only 6 out of every 100 ninth graders will earn a STEM degree.

 As a Nation, we must do better – and as the Nation’s engineers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is committed to helping address our STEM Challenge.  USACE employees participate in mentorship programs, science fairs, robotics competitions, teacher training workshops, recreational events, STEM Camps and other educational opportunities. Their enthusiasm for engineering and science might just be the inspiration a child needs to pursue a STEM career. 

Happy National Engineers Week! 

Miscellaneous "neat stuff", STEM

BUILDING STRONG as One Team

February 18th, 2011

Booker T. Washington, the foremost black educator of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, once said, “Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” As we celebrate Black History Month, let us take this opportunity to highlight the struggles, accomplishments, and successes that African-American’s have made to our society and Army.

African-Americans have served with distinction in the American military since the opening salvos of the Revolutionary War. Hundreds of thousands of black troops fought for their freedom during the Civil War, and during World War I approximately 40,000 African-American Engineers helped secure the Allied victory.  In fact, during World War II, 42% of all engineer units were African-American, performing incredible support missions such as building airfields, maintaining roads, repairing bridges, and building hospitals across Europe and the Pacific.

Closer to home, the Army sent African-American engineers to Alaska and Canada to help build the crucial Alaskan Highway, a 1,500-mile-road that would connect Alaska to the United States, enabling our military to channel troops, tanks, and aircraft to Alaska to bolster American defenses against Japanese operations in the Aleutian Islands. 

We’ve come a long way since World War II. As of 2008, African-American Soldiers made up 19.8 percent of the Active Duty Army, 13.3 percent of the National Guard and 22.1 percent of the Army Reserve.

As our Army has matured in how we regard diversity, our Country is still experiencing a shortage of engineers of all backgrounds, particularly among our youth.  Last year, we partnered with a school system in Los Angeles to provide valuable mentoring and leadership to more than 20,000 students.  And just this past September, we contracted with MYI Consulting to help us broaden and diversify our science, technology, engineering and math education and outreach nationwide. 

Our young Americans hold the future of our Nation in their hands, and we owe each of them the opportunity to realize their dreams. That’s just one way we’re BUILDING STRONG.

Van

History, Miscellaneous "neat stuff"

USACE Labs Receive International Recognition

November 12th, 2010

Our mission is to provide unique value to the nation through our engineering expertise, whether on the battlefield or at home. One of the key ways we do that is through innovative research — developing groundbreaking science and engineering solutions to help the Army and the Nation overcome an array of complex challenges facing our Nation and our Soldiers. We do this research in USACE labs around the country as part of our Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), which has been named one of the top Army R&D Laboratories for five of the last eight years.

We recently received another honor that I want to highlight because it represents international recognition of a generation’s worth of positive contributions to the science community. ERDC has been named the winner of the 2011 National Association of Corrosion Engineers International Distinguished Organization award for providing 35 years of advanced technologies for infrastructure corrosion prevention and control.

On the surface, preventing and controlling corrosion may not sound as flashy as inventing a new weapons system or missile. But corrosion–or the degradation of materials–can happen to the infrastructure of virtually everything we build, from the rebar in our concrete to the degradation of wood timbers in bridges. Therefore, by preventing material degradation, we preserve the integrity of a critical structure or facility. Some of our recent accomplishments include designing and implementing the world’s first large load capacity (88 tons) thermoplastic composite bridge — which is a bridge made from some 85,000 pounds of recycled plastics — at Fort Bragg, and the development of a specially coated rebar for use in concrete, a technology recently honored by R&D Magazine as one of world’s top 100 technology developments for 2010. These discoveries are vitally important in our work to building the Army and the Nation to last!

Words cannot express the pride I have for the men and women of ERDC who contribute their talents and ingenuity into helping our Army and Nation each day. I am proud to be part of such an amazing, talented and dedicated family of engineering professionals working together to help build our Nation strong!

–Van

Miscellaneous "neat stuff", Research and Development ,

Army Chief of Staff Thanks USACE

September 17th, 2010

I am proud to share the following letter we recently received from Gen. George W. Casey, the Army’s Chief of Staff.  

Gen. Casey thanks USACE.

Gulf Coast Recovery, Military Programs, Miscellaneous "neat stuff", Partnership, Uncategorized

African American Engineering History

February 24th, 2010

This week, I had the honor of participating in the release of the USACE Office of History’s latest publication, Nothing But Praise: A History of the 1321st Engineer General Service Regiment.

This book sheds new light on the role of African American engineers during World War II, and in the process, it enriches the history of the entire Engineer Regiment. It chronicles the distinguished wartime service of the 1321st Engineers, which was one of many segregated African American units during the war.

Often operating under adverse conditions, African American engineers played key roles in completing some of the Army’s most difficult construction projects. The 1321st Engineers deployed to France in December of 1944, and supported the Allied drive across Europe. During the months that followed, the unit compiled an enviable record of accomplishments — its engineers repaired bridges, cleared and maintained roads, renovated buildings, constructed hospitals, and built huge supply depots.

We are so lucky that the unit’s commander, Colonel Aldo Bagnulo, did a brilliant job of documenting the unit’s many outstanding accomplishments, and kept dozens of previously unpublished images of African American engineers at work during World War II. This book would not be possible without his attention to detail, or his impeccable record keeping.

A summary of the book and a photo gallery of images is available on the Office of History web page, as well as a link to download the full text of the book.  I encourage you to check out our history and honor it, because the 1321st Engineers were definitely BUILDING STRONG.

Miscellaneous "neat stuff"

So much to be thankful for…

December 21st, 2009

Well, the holidays upon us, and with that, all the last minute shopping for gifts, groceries and party supplies. For many, this year’s festivities will be more humble than years past, because so many people are cutting back due to the economy. And although there are many people in America who are struggling this year, I recently came across a story from one of our teammates in Afghanistan that just reminded me of how much we have to be thankful for, and how spoiled we really are. It’s so easy to take things for granted, because we are so blessed to live in this great nation.

I hope that you take a moment to check out this story by clicking here - it’s about some of our dedicated servicemembers and civilians serving overseas who are part of a group called “Volunteer Community Relations” (VCR), a command-directed outreach program that provides clothing, blankets, school and other supplies to Kabul’s poor and displaced, and Afghan refugees who are returning from Pakistan. VCR distributed 900 blankets and more than 500 bags filled with toys and school supplies to 300 families in need on the day of this story.  Here are some of the photos to give you a taste:

Volunteers distribute blankets to needy Afghan refugee families. The blankets were made by widows of Afghanistan National Police members. The Volunteer Community Relations program purchased them with proceeds from a donation to help the widows with their small business. (USACE photo by Hank Heusinkveld)

Volunteers distribute blankets to needy Afghan refugee families. The blankets were made by widows of Afghanistan National Police members. The Volunteer Community Relations program purchased them with proceeds from a donation to help the widows with their small business. (USACE photo by Hank Heusinkveld)

Young Afghan girls, excited by the arrival of their American guests, run towards a line where theyll find bags of toys. (USACE photo by Hank Heusinkveld)

Young Afghan girls, excited by the arrival of their American guests, run towards a line where they'll find bags of toys. (USACE photo by Hank Heusinkveld)

It’s a great little holiday (or any day) pick-me-up.  I hope that your holidays are filled with all the blessings that can only be found by giving of yourself to others. Be safe out there and have a great holiday and a very happy New Year!

Afghanistan, Miscellaneous "neat stuff" , ,

Back in Business

July 15th, 2009

I’ve had a few techno issues lately that knocked out my comments link– but it’s working again! I apologize to those wanting to comment on my blogs. I look forward to hearing from you!

Miscellaneous "neat stuff" ,

Freedom Isn’t Free

July 1st, 2009
As we approach the 4th of July weekend and all of the Independence Day celebrations around the country, I’m struck by how blessed we are to be Americans. The news around the world is such a blatant reminder that we have a gift that we must treasure and preserve at all cost.
 
When the founding fathers adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, 1776 – they laid the foundation for our gift. In fact, John Adams, a signatory on the declaration – and later our second president, knew it was the kind of day that would be marked and celebrated forever. He wrote to his wife, Abigail, that it “will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival… It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever more.”
 
Granted, he was actually talking about the 2nd of July, the day the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence. But he was right, nonetheless. And every year since, we mark the occasion with great celebration.
 
But freedom isn’t free. For 200+ years, we have continued to fight to defend our freedom, and for the basic human rights of others. I know so many people, Soldiers and Civilians alike, who have sacrificed more than most can imagine for this country, and this year, we lost two of our USACE teammates, who were selflessly serving to provide a better life for the people of Iraq.
 
So as you enjoy the fireworks and festivities, please take a few minutes this weekend to remember the cost of our independence, and raise a glass to those who continue to make this celebration of independence possible.

Miscellaneous "neat stuff" , , ,

I Get To Do This!

June 23rd, 2009
Sometimes in this job, I get to do the coolest things.
 
I recently participated in a ribbon cutting ceremony in partnership with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS). We unveiled ten campsites built to tackle a special challenge – taking care of medical patients undergoing long-term treatments in Little Rock, Arkansas. Check this local tv story out.

Corps Projects, Miscellaneous "neat stuff", Recreation , , ,

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

June 9th, 2009

I had the honor of representing USACE at an event for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) and Minority Institutions at Howard University here in Washington, DC recently. They were honoring “top supporters” – organizations, agencies and companies that contribute significantly to HBCUs.

The way that we contribute is really interesting. We have a certain amount of money allocated to us each year that is specifically to use with educational facilities, to have them do research or design work, things like that for us. This challenges the students with real world experience, helps us to “build the bench” of the future engineer workforce, and helps us keep costs down, as well.

The Army aims to have 13 percent of that education money go to HBCUs. And even though they still have to compete to get it (we can’t set it aside for them, legally), we’ve already surpassed that goal.

Not only was USACE among the “top supporters,” but they put my picture on the cover of this month’s US Black Engineer magazine! (I thought it was going to be a small picture in the lower corner of the cover!!) Check it out by clicking here.

I’m really passionate about this effort, because it’s essential in building diversity in engineering, which I know will make us a better, stronger Corps of Engineers.

One other cool tid-bit I got from this event – did you know that Howard University was the first institution to offer an engineering degree to African Americans?

It was a GREAT day, indeed.

Contracting, Miscellaneous "neat stuff" , , ,