Providing SCE students educational enhancement and career development opportunities are key missions of both our UMKC Missouri Society of Professional Engineers (MSPE) and our UMKC Society of American Military Engineers (SAME) student chapters. This Spring Break they teamed up to provide their members an astonishing opportunity, a travel expense paid trip to tour the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Engineering Research Development Center in Vicksburg, MS on Monday, March 25 followed by a visit to the Lower Mississippi River Museum and participation at the Vicksburg SAME Post luncheon and presentation on Tuesday, March 26. Accompanying the students on the trip were civil engineering faculty Dr. Ceki Halmen and Dr. ZhiQiang Chen, MSPE Student Chapter Vice President Sean Rivers and MSPE Student Chapter staff advisor Jane Vogl. Funding was provided by the MSPE Student Chapter, the SCE Student Council, the UMKC Office of Student Involvement, the SCE Alumni Board, and the Greater Kansas City Post of the Society of American Military Engineers. Dean Kevin Truman, SAME student chapter faculty advisor, and Jane Vogl helped to arrange the trip.
The very worthwhile ERDC visit started with a warm welcome from ERDC Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory Director Dr. David Pittman. Dr. Pittman and his team provided SCE students information on careers at USACE and ERDC. He encouraged students to investigate the USACE for career possibilities as job opportunities become available. Students then visited each of the four state-of-the art laboratories open for public touring. With tremendous enthusiasm researchers at each laboratory discussed their work, how they conducted their research and shared some of their results. Because much of ERDC’s research is classified, especially the research intended to support and enable the warfighter, SCE students were left to ponder just exactly what was going on the dozens of building they did not visit within the complex. See the USACE ERDC overview fact sheet and the Media Fact Sheet about ERDC laboratories to obtain a perspective on the size and scope of ERDC’s work and mission.
Highlights of the ERDC tour included 1) viewing the 1-55 ft scale model of the McNary Lock and Dam and hearing about the research into lock and dam designs that are able to co-exist with local fish populations; 2) driving a barge in a simulated lock and dam; 3) experiencing and interacting with a simulation of driving a ship in San Francisco bay; 4) visiting the Hazardous Waste Research Center where research into removing lead from soil was described along with research into removing pollutants from sediments; 5) learning how ERDC utilizes an incredibly powerful centrifuge to conduct blast research; and 6) viewing 3-D simulations of research data and experiments in the Information Technology Laboratory.
Due to a happy coincidence, the Vicksburg Post of The Society of American Military Engineers monthly luncheon/presentation was the day after the ERDC tour. SCE students and faculty received a fantastic welcome, enjoyed a great lunch and found the presentation on weather trends extremely informative. After the luncheon, Colonel Kevin Wilson of ERDC and Colonel Jeffrey Eckstein of the USACE Vicksburg District talked with students encouraging them to excellence in their studies and their careers.
The Vicksburg trip is one of several professional trips being taken by SCE students this March and April. The UMKC National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) Student Chapter members are participating in the NSBE 2013 Annual Convention in Indianapolis, IN and the UMKC IEEE Student Chapter members are participating in the IEEE Robotics Competition in Denver, CO.