Spc. Kaleb Peterson feeds several 12-gauge wires through a pipe in Building 337. The wires provide electrical output for a room of computers used by Soldiers training with the Noncommissioned Officers Academy.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Oct. 24, 2012) -- Army engineers are getting top quality, hands-on training in practical tasks relating to their MOS, thanks to a partnership between the 60th Engineer Company and Fort Benning's Directorate of Public Works.

Since June, when the DPW Task Force Utility Program was formed, plumbers and electricians attached to the unit have worked side by side with DPW civilians. They report to a DPW team leader and work eight-hour days for a monthlong period, while an NCO with the company tracks their work, verifies safety equipment and reviews their performance.

"The 11th Engineer Battalion is grateful to DPW for their support in helping us improve the skills of our electricians and plumbers," said Lt. Col. Christopher Hussin, battalion commander. "It shows a real commitment to the 'Team of Teams' concept and fills a critical gap we are experiencing here in the battalion."

The "gap" refers to the lack of plumbing or electrical work required of the battalion.

"We're not getting this training anywhere else," said Capt. David McCollum, company commander. "We do troop construction across Fort Benning, but most of it is wood frame construction or concrete not internal work like plumbing and electricity. This program is a great opportunity for Soldiers who specialize in those fields to further develop their professional skills."

To date the program has involved 17 engineers who have logged more than 1,500 hours on work orders across the installation, from Camp Darby to Lawson Army Airfield, he said.
Examples of projects include running trace wires, installing conduits, remolding bathrooms, installing showers and upgrading water heaters.

Last week, Pfc. Harrison Cameron helped repair and prevent pipeline leaks in Main Post building used by the Noncommissioned Officers Academy. The last time Cameron did plumbing-related work was during advanced individual training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas, two years ago.

"That was a six-week-long school and there's only so much you can learn," he said. "When I was in this program last time, I did a lot of replacing toilets, and in AIT all we really did was put one in. You come into a lot more problems dealing with several different toilets and different measurements. You have to be able to adapt and adjust to all of the problems you can run into."

Now in his second term with the task force, Cameron said his experiences with DPW will ultimately help him execute his mission within his MOS, when needed.

"It's been really great," he said. "Like most people, I'm more of a hands-on, visual learner not 'sit and read a book.' I've learned quite a bit. When it comes time to actually have to install piping and toilets and things like that, it'd be nothing."

Spc. Kaleb Peterson, an electrician also in his second term with the program, said he's learned some tricks -- "little things that make it easier and safer" -- from working with DPW civilians. He cited remembering how to bend pipes as an example.

"I want to learn my trade," he said. "I enjoy doing this. I've been having a lot of fun learning my trade while still in a professional atmosphere getting a job done. If I ever deploy, I can apply my skills professionally and well."

Another plus from the program is that it provides on-the-job training that translates well to the civilian sector to help Soldiers when they transition out of the Army. It also benefits DPW in their mission to keep buildings on post in top condition.

"We were very impressed with their skill and their work ethic," said Kirk Ticknor, operations and maintenance division chief. "They are doing a great job."

Page last updated Wed October 24th, 2012 at 10:27