VICKSBURG, Miss. (May 8, 2019) -- The U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center’s outreach program, ERDC University, welcomed fiscal year 2019 participants during kickoff week in March, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District’s former Natural Resources Specialist and current Executive Assistant Kathleen Payne repeated a visit to ERDC as one of six selectees.
Now in its fourth year, ERDC-U partners Corps division and district participants with ERDC subject matter experts to apply and implement technical solutions during these six-month sessions. Sponsored by the ERDC Office of Research and Technology Transfer and the Directorate of Human Capital, ERDC-U’s kickoff week featured briefings at the Vicksburg headquarters, followed by tours of four of seven laboratories located throughout the 700-acre campus.
Physical Scientist Robin Lopez and Associate Technical Director Mike Campbell are serving as Payne’s mentors at ERDC’s Geospatial Research Laboratory in Alexandria, Virginia. Payne is assisting with various research tasks and supporting ongoing projects that leverage geographic information systems and remote sensing technologies. These include Terrestrial Light Detection and Ranging data acquisition, 3D point cloud post-processing and 3D point cloud feature extraction.
“I have been interested in the field of geographic information systems technology ever since I was a freshman in high school. I took an introductory class offered at the local Community Technology Learning Center through its partnership with North Carolina State University’s Science House. After completing my degree in biology, I was exposed to using GIS while working as a natural resources specialist in the Little Rock District. I had the opportunity to take a GIS Introduction PROSPECT course at ERDC’s Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in 2014.
“I recently took the Graduate Record Exam, and my goal is to pursue a Master of Geographic Information Systems degree online while continuing to work full-time for USACE. The endless uses for this knowledge are exciting, and I am thankful for this learning opportunity to be a part of the ERDC University program,” Payne said.
Payne will also be involved with digital image processing using ArcMap and Environment for Visualizing Images software; testing and evaluating advanced terrain analysis workflows; production and editing of terrain data processing manual and forest inventory for ground reference data.
A team member for Little Rock District for the past eight years, Payne received her bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in ecology and field biology from College of the Ozarks in Point Lookout, Missouri.
Payne said she learned about ERDC University through several outlets.
“While on an earlier visit to ERDC, I heard about the program for the first time. Then, our district training coordinator sent out a few emails announcing the program. Ultimately, my mentor encouraged me to submit an application, and I’m so glad I did! I have been interested in learning more about the ERDC ever since I started working for USACE, and I look forward to learning about what the ERDC Geospatial Research Laboratory does, while gaining more experience in the field of GIS,” Payne said.
Commenting on her kickoff week’s briefings and tours, Payne said it was an informative experience, adding that “I had no idea that some of the technologies that I have seen existed. There is so much that the ERDC does, from modeling navigation improvements on the Ship/Tow Simulator to 3D printing of concrete; conducting research on invasive bighead carp using fish flumes; testing different materials in the blast load simulator and inventing new materials to support and protect the warfighter. The kick-off week was an awesome experience, and I want to thank everyone who was involved in putting it together. It allowed us to have a new perspective of what USACE does for the Nation.”
Applications for the 2020 session of ERDC University are now open through Oct. 31, 2019.