Single Soldiers attending courses at the Defense Information School on Fort Meade, Md., now have a modern, renovated home thanks to a project completed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Baltimore District.

The Corps joined leaders of the 551st Signal Battalion school detachment on Feb. 19 to celebrate and cut the ribbon at building 8606 at 6 Armored Cavalry Road in the center of the garrison. Many of the students are first-term Soldiers learning the technical skills of print and electronic communication immediately after completing Army basic training.

"It was a pleasure to work on this project and see it to completion," said Melvin Damoudt, District project engineer. "We know how important it is to upgrade living and working conditions for our Soldiers."

Construction on the $11.4 million project began in November 2011 under the Army's Total Barracks Upgrade Program. The Corps gutted the 38,000 square foot building to add new plumbing, mechanical and electrical systems. Now, the Soldiers have new bedrooms (two per room) with a bathroom, keypad locks for the rooms, new heating and cooling systems, a spacious day room with comfortable couches and flat screen televisions, and more. Placards with the Army Values (Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honesty, Integrity, Personal Courage) are displayed as an important reminder.

"The new barracks improves the Soldiers' quality of life," noted Capt. Michael Martinez, Signal School detachment commander, "allowing them to fully focus on their primary mission of learning their occupational skill and becoming professional Soldiers."

The Training Barracks Upgrade Program is an overall Army project to improve the living and working conditions for Soldiers.

Col. Brian Foley, Fort Meade garrison commander, said, "This is a better place for Soldiers to live during training. The Fort Meade garrison is here to support and enable you during the training phase of your career."

The three-story building currently has 150 people who live and work there plus administrative spaces for the unit.

Several command information boards are updated with information about local activities. Also, displaying their continuing support for Soldiers, the Fort Meade USO provided refreshments at the event.

Maj. Jason Allen represented the District leadership at the event; also present was Sharon Garay-Rodriguez, Bay Area Office area engineer.