By Mr. Joseph Bonfiglio (USACE)August 22, 2014
FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (August 22, 2014) -- 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 first-hand 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.
"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 which 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 it 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.
"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 Maj. 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."