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Posted 9/19/2016

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Wouldn’t it be great if you could spend time with prospective employers learning about the company, working with employees and getting a closer look at what it is you would be doing – even before accepting a job there?

That’s pretty much what West Point cadets and cadets in the Reserve Officer Training Corps, more commonly referred to as ROTC, get to do when they are accepted into the Cadet District Engineer Program, offered nationwide by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

This summer, three such cadets – Ryan Blount, from West Point, Sean Kasprisin, from the University of Wyoming, and Eli McMeen, from the University of Washington – all had the opportunity to dig their boots into Sacramento soil for 28 days, putting on a hard hat and orange vest at construction sites, and gaining valuable insight about the challenges and projects handled by the Sacramento District.

“The cadets shadow various leaders at some of our sites in order to gain experience on what it is the Corps does for both the Sacramento District and the nation,” said Michael Hinsley, Professional Engineer and CDEP Coordinator for Sacramento District.

While here, the cadets visited constructions sites, learned about quality assurance, shadowed a project manager, and were even put to work a little – where possible – to help them feel “plugged-in,” according to Hinsley.

This year, 85 cadets participated nationwide in the month-long program designed to introduce them to civil engineering fields and activities typically assigned to new engineers within a Corps of Engineers district. Participation is voluntary and provides no academic credit but places them in real-world scenarios to gain understanding and apply concepts they’ve been studying.

Cadet Kasprisin, who’s majoring in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, said he enjoyed the chance to take an inside look the Folsom Dam auxiliary spillway mega-project and get his hands on some of the tools of the engineer’s trade.

“This experience has taught me a great deal about the various roles of the Corps of Engineers and the many possible career paths in the Corps and even beyond the federal government,” said Kasprisin. “I’m grateful I was selected for the program and for the opportunity to shadow the Corps leadership.”

As if their internship schedule wasn’t busy enough, they also spent time working alongside Sacramento District Commander, Col. David Ray. From Folsom Dam to meetings and briefings, the cadets experienced the whirlwind of activity associated with being a senior Corps leader.

“The Cadet District Engineer Program is invaluable in providing the cadets a memorable experience they can share with other cadets and engineering students at their universities,” said Ray.

Cadet McMeen, who is working toward a degree in Civil Engineering and Economics, agreed with Ray’s assessment, calling the experience “eye-opening.”

“It was very interesting to get an inside look at how the Corps functions – to see how they conduct mega-projects and how they resolve technical issues,” said McMeen.

His biggest takeaway from the 28-day-experience? Communication.

“I developed a much better understanding of just how important good communication is, especially with so much money and so many stakeholders involved.”

Cadet District Engineer Program CDEP US Army Corps of egnieners USACE