Institute for Water Resources

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Posted 8/16/2018

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ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA.   Civil and Mechanical Engineering Cadets from the U.S. Military Academy (West Point) gathered at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Headquarters on July 30 as part of a larger five-day program across the east coast to expose them to the USACE mission.  The cadets were provided an opportunity to learn about the key components of the USACE’s Military and Civil Works Programs.  One of the objectives of the visit was to provide an overview on the wide range of subjects related to executing the USACE mission and serving its customers.   

The Institute for Water Resources (IWR) was invited to participate in the Washington D.C. morning session to cover subjects in U.S. Water Resources Development, USACE Planning Activities, and Public Participation and Collaboration.  Dr. Joe Manous, IWR Director, gave an insightful perspective of the Nation’s needs related to water resources and how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has and continues to support those requirements.  His discussion covered water uses, the Federal role, the evolution of environmental policies, and 20th century water resources investments.  The presentations emphasized the importance of economic development as the driving factor in shaping U.S. water resources development since the founding of the United States. This interactive discussion provided the cadets a strategic context from which to view the important work the USACE is doing today.   

Ms. Erin Rooks, Economist and IWR Planning Technologies Lead, gave a presentation on USACE Planning.  She discussed the different aspects, such as the skills and disciplines, involved in planning, the 6-Step Process, and the study and approval procedures.  Risk-informed planning and how this approach is re-shaping the 6-Step Process was also an important component of Ms. Rooks’s presentation.  Ms. Rooks’s presentation also covered the wealth of resources that the USACE Planning community offers.   

Dr. Tyson Vaughan, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at IWR, presented information about stakeholder collaboration and public involvement and IWR’s Collaboration and Public Participation Center (CPCX).  He defined public involvement, its importance, and history within USACE, including laws, policy, and guidance.  Dr. Vaughan also emphasized how collaboration and stakeholder involvement impacts the decision-making process and project outcomes.   

Public involvement is central to the Corps’ role as a public engineering organization, because it is a key mechanism used to identify the option that best reflects society’s values,” stated Dr. Vaughan. 

Throughout the rest of the week the cadets conducted site visits to USACE projects with a focus on watershed management and environmental restoration.  They learned about, and visited the Everglades and river equities while visiting the Savannah and Jacksonville Districts in the South Atlantic Division. This visit provided them a clear example of USACE’s current projects, public law, and engineering capability.    Overall, the program is a great opportunity to educate and shape the experience of our future Army engineers.    

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