My name is Cadet James Hoyt and I am an intern at the Walla Walla District of the Army Corps of Engineers. I study mechanical engineering at Clarkson University in Potsdam, New York. I am entering my MSIV year in Clarkson's ROTC program, the Golden Knight Battalion. Since my freshman year, I have been interested in branching as an engineer officer. Throughout my time as a Cadet, I had heard a lot about the combat side of the branch and never its calmer side. I came to Walla Walla seeking to gain experience in the non-combat section of the engineers, and I believe the visit was a success.
My first week consisted mostly of dam visits. More specifically, I visited the Dworshak Dam, the Lower Granite Lock and Dam, and the Little Goose Lock and Dam. Initially, I had little knowledge of dams and irrigation systems. By the end of the week, I had learned about power generation, the integration of environmental preservation systems into the dams, and how different staff departments work together. I believe that these areas of knowledge will help me become a better engineer and a better leader to soldiers in the future.On my way to Dworshak, I saw the dam from a half mile away and thought to myself, "Wow, it's incredible how big that is!" But, I was taken back even more by what was inside of it. The range of the size, capabilities, and responsibilities of the different systems in the dam blew my mind.As an engineering student, most of my studies involve simple mechanical components that are supposed to applicable to "real world" systems. I was shocked at how massive these systems actually are, and how many components they have. All of the systems had to work in conjunction with each other. One or more systems would fail or have to be shut down as a result of the failure of another system. I realized the amount of planning, thought, and determination it took to complete these projects. I quickly became excited for my future as an engineer and my possible contribution to an equally amazing project in my future.The way the different staff departments worked together will be a reference for me. Whether it was at the project sites or headquarters, all staff were open to each other's ideas and responded with respect and professionalism. Everyone that I met was friendly to their immediate coworkers as well as others that worked outside of their department. These factors created an atmosphere that I want to be a part of. I hope to be able to replicate a similar environment as I develop as an engineer and a leader.This was the most informational and interesting experience that I have ever had. I was exposed to many "real world" feats of engineering that I have heard so much about at my school. I learned how systems within them are designed and maintained, as well as the time and manpower required to do such things. The knowledge I gained at the Walla Walla district is something that will follow me through my careers as an engineer and an army officer.