Staff size at the district’s western area office in Fargo, North Dakota, has more than doubled in the past six months and will have tripled with the recent offers to new employees, said Virginia Regorrah, area engineer for the western office.The western area office is responsible for construction management and contract administration for the work in their area of responsibility, which encompasses the drainage basins of the Red River, Souris River, Rainy River and the Mississippi and Minnesota rivers headwaters. Regorrah said their main mission is ensuring the contractors deliver the product for which they were contracted. They do this by monitoring and documenting the contractor’s performance against the contract plans and specifications.On a day-to-day basis, you will find construction representatives in the field at construction sites monitoring construction and engineers splitting their time between the field and the office, said Regorrah. She added that the engineers are also responsible for contract administration, communication and coordination.Chris Bowen, chief of construction, oversees both the Western Area Office and the Eastern Area Office in Winona, Minnesota. Bowen is located in St. Paul District headquarters, and has been working closely with Regorrah and Tony Feilzer, resident engineer, to facilitate keeping pace with their office growth. Bowen's role is to provide advice and guidance on potential recruitment strategies and help ensure that the organization structure is updated to reflect staffing changes as the office grows.Regorrah said her team was extremely busy this past summer with projects that include two components of the Fargo-Moorhead flood risk management project; the Montevideo, Minnesota, railroad closure; the Homme Dam joint repair; and a half a dozen other projects, while also completing all of the necessary paperwork for the projects.Regorrah said, “We’re managing one of the largest civil works projects in the Corps of Engineers, the Fargo-Moorhead flood risk management project, which means talking and coordinating with the tech leads, designers, project managers and contracting on a daily basis. This is a team effort, and it must be a team effort in order to be successful.”Bowen said, “It is very rare that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers builds a new dam. There is a good chance that personnel working on the Fargo Moorhead project will not have another opportunity in their lifetimeto work again on the construction of a new dam.”Regorrah said, “We’re also teaching processes and procedures. We’re assembling a construction team from many different agencies, firms and backgrounds. We need consistent procedures that follow Corps regulations and standards and utilize the Corps’ systems.”Building diversityThe western area office staff is diverse in terms of age, education, experience and background, said Regorrah. Recent hires have included construction representatives that have just completed construction management degrees in college, like April McCann and Yevette’E Jordan, who are currently pursuing their masters degrees. Greg Hammons was a student intern in the western area office and then accepted a position as a control representative after graduating from North Dakota State University.New hires have also included individuals with decades of experience as construction foremen and superintendents, such as Shane Hargreaves, control representative, who has several decades of experience in the construction industry as a foreman and superintendent.Similarly, the engineers have extensive experience including decades of design in private firms and several individuals have decades of construction management experience oversees. Troy Tooz, project engineer, worked at the Veterans Administration in Fargo before coming to the Corps, and before that, was the president of a design firm in Fargo. Omar Shalham, project engineer, moved from Houston and has 16 years of construction management experience in the Middle East.In addition to the diversity, Regorrah said another unique characteristic is the opportunity to work with other people. “Construction branch is the extrovert of engineering. We work with the contractors, we work with the customer and we often deal with the public or the stakeholders. Engineers aren’t generally known as ‘people persons,’ but we’re the closest you get.”Office ExpansionWhile the growth at the office has been quick, Regorrah said the team still faces challenges. She added that as the office is still growing, it is difficult to balance staffing needs against project awards and the timing of the projects while matching that to resources such as sufficient office space, government vehicles and IT equipment. She added that nearly all the new hires are new to the Corps, which means a lot of training.Regorrah said, “It's a tricky balancing act. How many people do we need and when? We need to ensure the projects are properly managed and administered. Growth means the projects have been awarded and it means opportunities for people to learn and to grow professionally, but the growth at this location is temporary for us and it's important for everyone to recognize that.”The physical office, Bowen said, required an upgrade to meet the growing needs. A location next to the existing office was chosen, but it was not configured to accommodate the number of workstations needed, despite having adequate square footage.“In general, the previous tenant in that space had more large offices and less open cubicle space, but we were able to reconfigure the space to fit approximately twice as many people," said Bowen.