US Army Corps of Engineers
North Atlantic Division

Army Corps’ New York District inspires Army Cadets to be engineers

Published July 16, 2019
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Robert Greco, project manager for the Green Brook Flood Risk Management Project discussing the project with the Cadets.

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The Cadets listening to a briefing about the features of the Green Brook Flood Risk Management Project while touring the site.

A battle handover is a coordinated operation between two units in a battle that transfers responsibility for fighting an enemy force from one unit to the other, while maintaining continuity of the fight.

This is an operation that must be learned by the Cadets at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York.

Recently, the Cadets had an opportunity to simulate this– not in a battle setting but, in a civil works engineering course.

In the course, they had to take over responsibility of a civil engineering project from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and show how they can come up with solutions to successfully maintain the project.

The simulated battle handover was successful and has inspired the Cadets to become civil engineers.

The Civil Engineering Professional Practice and Applications Course was instructed by the Army Corp’s project managers in partnership with West Point educators.

The Army Corp’s New York District has a long history with the historic educational institution. It has constructed numerous buildings on the 200-year-old campus and now it’s helping to build the minds of its Cadets.

“The course is to prepare them to enter the civil engineering profession. The course provides Cadets classroom discussions and activities that address planning their career. In addition, it helps them to analyze issues in professional engineering ethics and formulate solutions to complex engineering problems,” said Col. Brad Wambeke, Civil Engineering Division Director at the Academy.

The project the Cadets were tasked to take on was the Army Corps’ Green Brook Flood Risk Management Project. The project is located in north-central, New Jersey in a region that is vulnerable to severe and sometimes devastating flooding. Over the years, the District has constructed features to help mitigate the impacts of flooding.

“This project was selected because it has disciplines that include hydrology, hydraulics, civil and structural elements that have direct application to civil engineering courses at West Point,” said Robert Greco, project manager for the Green Brook Flood Risk Management Project.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. William Grisoli, Civil Engineering Division, at the Academy said, “The Green Brook project provides Cadets a real world experience of a complex problem.  A problem with no real set answers but with a goal of improving the living and working conditions of our citizens through innovative engineering solutions.  Solutions that are shaped by a team of engineers, Congressional and State leaders, and local citizens.” 

The course included a combination of classwork, site visits and presentations.

First, the Cadets were given a challenge associated with the project and were tasked to create a presentation showing possible solutions.

Next, they visited the project and discussed what they learned.

Greco said, “The Cadets were able to tour completed portions of the project, portions under construction and areas where no work has been done. The site visits were instrumental in providing them with an opportunity to review the Green Brook engineering designs and to compare them to the actual constructed features.”

After this the Cadets participated in a Q&A style teleconference with members of the Green Brook Project team to gain more information for their presentations.

Last, the Cadets prepared and presented final presentations to fellow Cadets, class instructors and the Green Brook Project team.

Roy Messaros, a Green Brook team member said, “In their presentations, the Cadets demonstrated a very thorough and comprehensive understanding of the challenges associated with a project of this magnitude.”

Col. Joseph Hanus, Director of the Civil Engineering Program, at the Academy said, “They learned about the Army Corps and how to address complex engineering problems as a team, but most importantly they were inspired.

“They interacted with truly passionate Army Corps engineers and leaders who sincerely believed in the importance of their project in protecting and preserving the future of the Americans living in the Green Brook Basin.

“The Cadets simulated a battle handover. They learned about the project so they would be ready to take over the project as a project manager. They will soon have to take over a platoon, and practicing this type of transition in the context of a complex engineering project was invaluable to their development.”

Due to the success of the course, it will be provided to the Cadets again next year.