Cadet District Engineer Program offers hands-on USACE experience

| August 23, 2014 | 0 Comments
Cadet Matt S. Borland (right) and Honolulu District Construction Control Representative Joseph Tribbey discuss the features of the Quad B Renovation Project on Schofield Barracks. (Photo by Joseph Bonfiglio, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District)

Cadet Matt S. Borland (right) and Honolulu District Construction Control Representative Joseph Tribbey discuss the features of the Quad B Renovation Project on Schofield Barracks. (Photo by Joseph Bonfiglio, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District)

Joseph Bonfiglio
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-HonoluluDistrict Public Affairs

FORT SHAFTER — The Honolulu District hosted two U.S. Army cadets this summer as part of the Cadet District Engineer Program (CDEP).

This program allows West Point and ROTC cadets an opportunity to gain firsthand construction and engineering experience with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).

CDEP cadets are generally assigned for several weeks of training 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.

Cadet Kyle Underwood (right) and Project Engineer Randy Itamoto discuss features of the Central Vehicle Wash Facility Project on Schofield Barracks. (Photo by Joseph Bonfiglio, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District)

Cadet Kyle Underwood (right) and Project Engineer Randy Itamoto discuss features of the Central Vehicle Wash Facility Project on Schofield Barracks. (Photo by Joseph Bonfiglio, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Honolulu District)

“This program has helped me understand the Corps a lot better,” said Cadet Kyle Underwood, who is studying civil engineering at West Point. “I thought the Corps did the construction, but they’re actually the project managers who ensure the quality of work is very high, that appropriate safety measures are taken, and that any issues or changes with the project can be addressed properly in a timely manner.”

According to Underwood, he enjoyed working on the projects assigned to him, starting with the Central Vehicle Wash Facility, which is basically an enormous car wash that serves to efficiently recycle and conserve water while preventing runoff from damaging the environment.

“I studied environmental engineering, so this is a great practical application of what I learned in the classroom,” said Underwood. “I also enjoyed working on the Warriors in Transition Barracks, which is for Soldiers who were injured in Iraq and Afghanistan. It gives them a special unit where they can have an Army job while transitioning back to the civilian world. It’s good to see that the Army is taking care of our returning Soldiers who have given so much in the service of our country.”

In addition, Underwood worked on the Quad D Renovation Project. 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.

“When this project is complete, Soldiers will have an improved quality of life because of the upgraded facilities,” said Underwood.

Underwood spoke highly of the USACE Quality Assurance Representatives (QARs) and the field engineers who mentored him.

“It was great working with the Quality Assurance Reps, and others. They were all very helpful and explained every aspect of the work to me,” said Underwood. “They took the time to teach me and make sure that I understood the process. I would favorably consider a future assignment with the Corps, and I highly recommend the program to my fellow cadets.”

Cadet Matt S. Borland of the University of Michigan also praised the program.

“I found out about the CDEP from someone in my ROTC program who was in its last year. He told me it was a great experience to see how engineering works in the Army, and he recommended that all engineer cadets apply,” said Borland.

Borland3“Before coming into this program I knew what the Corps was, but I did not know how it actually operated. During our first week, the district deputy commander, Maj. Brennan Wallace, made sure we met with a broad cross section of people representing every department (project managers, contracting, etc.) in order to show us how the Corps works,” said Borland.

“We were then sent out to different project sites to experience firsthand how a several thousand page contract is actually executed by the contractor. I attended meetings with the Corps team and the contractors to see how everything is coordinated.”

While in Hawaii, Borland got to work on the Quad B Renovation Project, which he found very interesting because of the age of the buildings and unforeseen project issues.

“I found it particularly interesting to see how the Corps negotiates with the contractors on tough issues,” said Borland.

According to Borland, “This experience will help the Army, the Corps and the District because one more cadet has been educated on what USACE does. I am looking forward to a possible future assignment with the Corps. I will tell the people back at my school about this program and the Honolulu District, which will lead to more engineers applying to come out here in the future.”

According to 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.”

(Note: Cadet Kyle Underwood is from Bayport, New York, and Cadet Matt S. Borland is from Troy, Michigan. They both applied for the Honolulu District based on the good reputation the District enjoys and the fact Hawaii is considered one of the most beautiful places in the world.)

• The U.S. Army Engineer Regiment

The U.S. Army Engineer Regiment has numerous capabilities spanning various skill sets, such as demolition, bridging, geospatial, dive units, firefighters and various construction fields. When an engineer officer is commissioned, he or she can be assigned to any of these types of units.

As part of the Engineer Regiment, USACE is a command with approximately 37,000 dedicated civilians and Soldiers delivering engineering and construction services to customers in more than 90 countries.

Because USACE is predominantly a Department of the Army civilian organization led by military officers, few military engineer officers are exposed to the Corps. For those who do receive an assignment, it’s generally in their tenth year of commissioned service or later.

Having cadets participate in the CDEP not only benefits the individual cadet, but benefits USACE to have future officers exposed to the organization, its capabilities and future assignment opportunities to consider in later years of service.

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