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Posted 2/11/2019

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By J. Paul Bruton


Please introduce yourself

My name is Kellie Cochran. I was born and raised in Dillon, Colorado, a small mountain town in the Central Rockies. I grew up skiing, hiking, and doing all things outdoors. After graduating from high school, I moved to San Luis Obispo, California, to attend Cal Poly. I spent five years studying civil and environmental engineering and received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in June 2018. In college, I was a member of Engineers Without Borders, and traveled to Nicaragua twice. I also played for the Cal Poly Women’s Club Rugby team for a few years. Last summer I spent six weeks road-tripping across the Western U.S. before starting my job with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Sacramento District in August. Currently, I am part of the Hydrology Section in the Engineering Division.

Tell us a little about your day-to-day job functions...

Since starting my job, I have mostly been involved with the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) 2016 project. I have been helping conduct the hydrologic analysis, which includes studying historic floods in the Sacramento area to determine the maximum flow that could occur in the rivers. This analysis will be used to inform the design for levee improvement projects. My tasks for this project have included compiling data and running models. Additionally, I have been working closely with the Water Management Section and have been learning about reservoir operations.

What do you like most about working for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers?

I like working on projects that are focused on serving and protecting the public. I find the emergency operations mission of the Corps of Engineers to be very interesting and rewarding. The large scale of the projects we work on also presents a unique challenge. I like being a part of an organization that requires people to think outside of the box.

What is one of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on?

WRDA 2016 has been one of the most interesting projects I have worked on because of how complex and in-depth the analysis for the project has been. It has been apparent that the type of engineering required for this project is not something that was taught in school. I have already learned so much from working on this project from statistics to several different modeling programs, and I still have plenty more to learn.

What do you like most about your job?

So far, I like the flexibility I have with my job. I have had the opportunity to meet people from a number of different sections and work on a wide variety of projects. There are so many opportunities to learn new things, which keeps it interesting for me.

What advice would you give to a new employee?

Finding a balance between work and personal life is very important. I try to do at least one thing every day that promotes my personal health like going on a walk, reading, or practicing guitar. When I am not at work, I try to unplug and not think about work-related things as much as possible. This helps me be better prepared to focus and be productive while I’m at work.

What three traits define you?

  1. Positive
  2. Adventurous
  3. Dedicated

What are three things most people don’t know about you?

  1. I played rugby throughout middle school, high school, and college.
  2. I am currently learning to play the guitar.
  3. I love goats! Mountain goats are my favorite, but I like any kind.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Favorite thing to do in Sacramento?

Whenever I have spare time, I love to spend it outdoors. I love to go hiking, camping, and skiing. I am looking forward to spending more time exploring the mountains near Sacramento. Going to the farmers market in Midtown is also a great thing to do on the weekend.

Top 3 personal highlights?

  1. Being baptized in the ocean at Avila Beach.
  2. Being a part of my sister’s wedding.
  3. Defending my master’s thesis and graduating from Cal Poly.

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