News: Prep student shadow Nashville District Engineers for STEM experience
Story by Mark Rankin
NASHVILLE, Tenn. –A sophomore student from Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville, Tenn., participated in a engineer shadow program today with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District Engineering Branch and shadowed Nashville District engineers.
Donovan Sohr, a tenth grader, looking to study engineering in his post-secondary education field, met with Lt. Col. John L. Hudson, Nashville District commander, and Rob Baulsir, mechanical engineer, and Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics coordinator, early on Feb. 28 for morning briefings at the Nashville District Headquarters located at the Estes Kefauver Federal Building.
District engineers gave Sohr a brief orientation on the roles of civilian workers and military personnel, he then received a more in-depth look at the district’s history, branches, and project locations and purposes.
Following the opening orientation, he met experts from the structural, mechanical, water resources, water management, and cost engineering sections of the Engineering Branch. Moving from one engineering section to another, he gained an overall better understanding of what it means to be a military-support and civil-works engineer in the Corps.
“The purpose for these types of tours is to showcase actual engineering jobs and how they relate to science and math,” said Hudson.
Later in the afternoon, Sohr traveled to nearby Old Hickory Lock and Dam in Hendersonville, Tenn., for a tour of the project and to interact with engineers who operate and maintain the facility.
Hudson and Baulsir accompanied Sohr and said it was a great opportunity for them to learn about the district’s civil work projects.
Baulsir said everyone involved with mentoring Sohr wanted to expose them to the Corps’ engineering mission so they could use the experience to help make life decisions.
“The main thing we want to show him is what STEM careers look like on a project site, take him to the people who do these jobs everyday and provide him a good feel of a career related to these jobs,” said Baulsir. “A lot of students know what career path they want to do,” however, they don’t necessarily know the path to get there and that’s how I think this tour helps.
Hydropower Plant Power Project Manager Randy Crabtree, Lock and Dam Operator John Ermer, and Natural Resource Specialist Charlie Leath gave Sohr a guided tour of the lock and dam structures, including the hydropower units, and provided a short presentation on the importance of environmental stewardship and natural resource management at the district’s lake projects.
Baulsir said taking Sohr on a visit to a project provides him an opportunity to talk to the engineers about what they do, and maybe what colleges and degrees are needed. It also allowed him to explore different certifications that will help achieve his goals.
“It’s important for us to provide STEM experiences to our students because it changes their minds, careers and lives,” said Baulsir.
At the end of the tour Sohr said understanding the whole concept of hydropower is mind blowing and he is appreciative of the chance to shadow Nashville District engineers. He said he plans to pursue the engineering field.
Hudson said the shadow program is a success because engineers can provide students with a comprehensive overview of the types of classes, schools and degrees in math and science needed that translates to an actual job.
“It’s a great opportunity for Sohl to have a hands-on experience and see what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers does in terms of the full spectrum of everything we do,” Hudson said.
For more information about Montgomery Bell Academy, go to http://www.montgomerybell.edu. For news, updates and information about the Nashville District, please follow and “Like” us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/nashvillecorps and Old Hickory Lake at http://www.facebook.com/oldhickorylake.