Two U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Kansas City District employees recently graduated from a six-month program called ERDC University on Sept. 15, 2022, in Vicksburg, Mississippi, through the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.
Jesseca Alexander, Kansas City District civil engineer, and Brandon Meinert, Kansas City District building information modeling program manager, were two of six graduates from the program.
ERDC is a federal organization that works to solve the nation’s most challenging problems in civil and military engineering, geospatial sciences, water resources and environmental sciences, according to ERDC’s webpage.
ERDC-U offers USACE personnel a unique chance to work with ERDC researchers on research and development (R&D) initiatives to create real-world solutions. This partnership teaches participants more about the R&D process and helps ERDC researchers learn more about district initiatives and challenges, and how their research efforts could find solutions to those challenges.
Alexander compared the experience to a foreign exchange program.
“You are transferred to a new city, spending all your energy soaking up culture, practices and knowledge, and at the end, you have a project and experience you could not have gotten anywhere else,” Alexander said.
Meinert’s unique experience was a chance to conduct more formal R&D and explore his love for technology.
“I am passionate about technology and enjoy researching and testing new technology to find ways to improve current processes, and ERDC-U gave me an opportunity [to do that].”
Each student chooses an innovative project to study and conduct during their time in Vicksburg. Alexander’s project was physical model development for amended cap material placement on contaminated soils, which is basically using a mixture of sand and coke (a hard, porous coal-based fuel that is a common biproduct from burning coal) to see how it settles through water in a large tank when placed in different ways. The purpose of the project was to analyze the efficiency of each placement method.
Meinert’s project focused on looking at digital twins (digital models of projects) and how they can improve project delivery and support customer operations and maintenance within the larger Army installations strategy and modernization efforts.
Working on these projects gave them opportunities to meet new professionals and explore new ideas.
“ERDC-U offers a great opportunity to expand your network of people and practices. Learning about the new and innovative technologies being developed at ERDC was irreplaceable and will allow me to apply that knowledge further in my career,” Alexander said.