Researchers from 10 U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Districts have been selected for the 2023 session of the Engineer Research and Development Center University (ERDC-U).
Project Engineer Zahraa Al Khafaji of the Chicago District has been chosen as a participant for this detail program, now in its eighth year.
The 12 selectees were announced by ERDC-U Program Manager Antisa Webb, who serves as Chief of the Office of Research and Technology Transfer (ORTT), Technology, Knowledge and Outreach (TKO) Division. The Class of 2023 orientation session was held Feb. 27 through March 2, 2023, at ERDC headquarters.
“ERDC-U offers partnerships between USACE Division and District participants and relevant laboratory mentors for six-month research projects, resulting in technical solutions benefitting their workplace, the Corps and the Nation,” Webb said. “By working with these subject-matter experts from ERDC’s seven state-of-the art laboratories, participants will focus on real-world solutions as they also develop leadership skills for their home organization.”
A Corps of Engineers team member for three years, Al Khafaji’s current project is Chicago Harbor Lock Concrete repair, underwater concrete placement, micro pile drilling and installation. She directs construction management activities focusing on inspecting concrete placements, reviewing concrete submittals for contract compliance, researching solutions and drafting responses to Requests for Information.
Al Khafaji’s mentors will be Dr. Jameson Shannon and Jeb Tingle, both of the ERDC Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, as she learns processes to become a concrete specialist for this USACE critical area, which provides the primary construction material for civil works and military structures.
The program is co-sponsored by ERDC’s Directorate of Human Capital (DHC) through an application and selection process. Program funding is split between the selectee’s Division or District for choice of labor costs or travel with the other funded by ERDC.
Chicago District Commander Col. Paul B. Culberson said, “Ms. Al Khafaji is a highly qualified civil engineer with excellent technical and leadership skills. She has a Master of Science in Civil Engineering and is assigned as Project Engineer on some of the District’s most challenging construction contracts involving concrete…Ms. Al Khafaji’s prior civilian experience in concrete form design and her advanced education demonstrate the technical ability to delve further into advance research in concrete design and placement…The experience gained by her pursuing research in these areas would be extremely beneficial to the Chicago District as we seek to rehabilitate and modernize for the 21st century some of the nation’s oldest and busiest locks.”
“ERDC-U experiences build a collaborative and continuing partnership with ERDC team members as an investment in the future of the Corps, along with career-long problem-solving contacts,” Webb said.
The ERDC University Program specifically seeks individuals with interest and experience in general scientific and engineering fields encompassing one of the following areas:
- Civil Works and Water Resources
- Environmental Quality and Installations
- Geospatial Research and Engineering
- Information Technology
- Military Engineering
Participants serve as a member of the interdisciplinary Research and Development team reporting to Lead Project Managers and/or Research and Development (R&D) Direct Program Managers. The incumbent supports and possibly leads any number of activities to develop R&D.
In his welcome, ERDC Director Dr. David Pittman said selectees will “have the opportunity to make great relationships that can help you the rest of your career, and we can learn about District needs from you.”
For program questions, contact Antisa.C.Webb@usace.army.mil Applications for the 2024 program will open October 1 for GS-7-13 team members through the “Opportunities” icon at https://wiki.erdc.dren.mil/ERDC_University.