VICKSBURG, Miss.— Tours of four world-class laboratories mingled with expert briefings highlighted the orientation session for ERDC University, an outreach program of the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC). This year, selectees came from five U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) districts, who visited ERDC’s campus in Vicksburg, Mississippi, March 1-2.
Participants chosen for the seventh year of the ERDC-U detail program include Jesseca Alexander, environmental engineer from the Kansas City District; Matthew Glover, geophysicist from the St. Louis District; Spencer Harper, coastal engineer from the San Francisco District; Brandon Meinert, N2W BIM manager from the Kansas City District; Jennifer Miller, supervisory environmental engineer from the Chicago District; and Sara Thames, senior biologist from the New Orleans District.
The program began with welcomes by ERDC’s Office of Research and Technology Transfer (ORTT) and the Human Capital Office, which are co-sponsors of ERD-U. Additionally, Deputy Director Dr. Beth Fleming provided an ERDC overview, along with participant interactions on the priorities of the USACE Research and Development Strategy.
“This is a highly successful initiative to connect ERDC to USACE Districts. While here, they met their ERDC mentors and planned research projects for the six-month session. The benefits of this partnership are far-reaching,” said Dr. David Pittman, ERDC director. “Not only will the 2022 class work on technical solutions for hard challenges faced by the Corps, but our ERDC researchers will be building long-term relationships with their District counterparts.”
Two days of tours introduced participants to a variety of ERDC research and development, ranging from the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory’s Ship Tow Simulator and the Information Technology Laboratory’s supercomputer program to the Environmental Laboratory’s Aquatic and Wetlands Ecosystem Research and Development Center for Large-Scale Engineering with Nature and the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory’s Weapons Effect Complex and world’s second-largest centrifuge. Videos showcased research and development projects at ERDC’s Construction Engineering Research Laboratory in Champaign, Illinois; the Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover, New Hampshire; and the Geospatial Research Laboratory in Alexandria, Virginia.
“ERDC-U offers partnerships between USACE Division and District participants and relevant laboratory mentors for beneficial research projects, resulting in technical solutions benefitting their workplace, the Corps and the Nation,” said Antisa Webb, ERDC-U program director.
Webb added that while working with these subject-matter experts from ERDC’s seven laboratories, participants focus on real-world solutions as they also develop leadership skills for their home organization.
“These interactions will provide us with a deeper knowledge of some of the challenges our Districts are encountering,” Pittman said. “We are doing our best to ensure that research and development is part of the solution for many of these issues.”
The districts fund their choice of labor or travel/per diem with ERDC funding the other category. Applications for the 2023 program will open October 1 for GS-7-13 team members through the “Opportunities” icon at: