Summer brings new faces to USACE
July 7, 2011
WIESBADEN, Germany - This summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Europe District is hosting a variety of students, from high school-aged students to seniors in college, who are looking to gain valuable job experience and knowledge about engineering and professional business.
The district is currently employing four summer hire students - Michael Boyd, Paulee Brown, Shena Cousens and Casey Mann, all from Wiesbaden High School " two Student Educational Employment Program Students - Stacy Kondani and Kevin Gilstrap, from the University of North Dakota and University of Illinois at Chicago, respectively - and six Advancing Minorities’ Interest in Engineering student interns - Ilan Alpert, Kameo Cofie, Ahmad Hamadu, Kyle O’Connor, Tariq Walker and Ryan Wright, all from various Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The partnership between USACE and AMIE, now on its 15th year, is still going strong. The goal of the AMIE program is to attract, educate, graduate and place minority students in engineering careers, according to its website.
“I have had a great experience with the Corps [of Engineers] and working here in Europe,” said O’Conner, now on his second time through the program. “I just hope it gives me a leg up because I know how the process works. I hope this internship puts my foot in the door so I can get another government job. I really want to work for the Corps after I graduate from college.”
That goal is not too far off the mark, according to Darren Walls, a district project manager and former AMIE student intern who attributes his ability to obtain his current job to the program. Now Walls oversees the district’s AMIE program.
“The AMIE program was definitely a stepping stone for me. Had I not been in the program, I would have never been exposed to working in Europe. I built relationships with some of the people here and got familiar with how things work,” said Walls. “If I didn’t go through the program, I don’t know if I would have been so interested in coming here and working in Europe.”
The interns spend the summer shadowing USACE employees, primarily from the district’s Engineering and Construction Branch, to gain more hands-on experience and help guide them towards their career choices as they finish up their college degrees.
“I think a lot of credit for this program goes to Elaine Lawson [former AMIE program manager] and Darren Walls. Now that [Lawson] left our office and handed the reins to Darren Walls, he’s following in her footsteps making sure we get good quality students,” said Terry Bautista, the district’s E&C;Branch chief and AMIE program coordinator. “In my position, I support the AMIE program and part of that support is to allow AMIE students to work within our division. They spend four years in a college or university studying, but they need to round out their experience with some practical experience in design, engineering or construction. I think that bringing an AMIE student here and allowing them to work with us for the summer makes them more marketable for future employers.”
College students aren’t the only ones in need of work experience. Four students from Wiesbaden High School are working at various offices around the Europe District headquarters building.
STEP, along with the Student Career Experience Program, is designed to give students experience related to their academic or career goals and agencies a chance to discover the abilities of a potential employee. Additionally, the Summer Hire program is designed to provide students with meaningful job experience, preparing them for their future educations and careers.
“This experience has been interesting,” said Brown. “I’ve learned a lot about what the Army Corps of Engineers does. Also, I think working in an office environment is really important for my future and it will look great on my résumé.”
The STEP, SCEP and SH programs begin accepting applications every spring while AMIE has a more lengthy application process students should begin well in advance.
“The main advantage of being here [at the district] is I get to be around a lot of engineers. I study civil engineering in college so it’s nice to be around engineering all the time and it’s a great way to spend your summer,” said Gilstrap. “It keeps you busy Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.”