The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been engineering solutions for our nation’s toughest challenges for 246 years. Engineers create new possibilities all the time and the engineers at USACE are no different. During National Engineers Week, Feb. 21 to 25, engineers are recognized for their notable contributions to society.
To celebrate, the Louisville District is highlighting team members from different engineering disciplines. Each engineer focuses on a different facet of engineering. While some engineers focus on things like remediation and construction, others spend their time negotiating contracts and designs. Other civil engineers deal with the financial side of engineering and more.
As the nation’s engineering and public works agency, USACE deliver’s quality projects and programs, on time and within budget, safely for the American people, and these engineers help make USACE a strong organization.
Anna Scoggins, an environmental engineer, focuses primarily on remediation and cleanup of potentially contaminated sites and often applies historical knowledge to the projects she works on.
“Environmental engineering combines all of the fundamental aspects of engineering with soil sciences, water, and biology. I work on a lot of soil and groundwater contamination. We’re cleaning up soil and groundwater that could potentially be a hazard to human health or the environment,” said Scoggins. “I think environmental engineering is really cool because we are, in one way or another, protecting human health and the ecosystem and keeping health and safety for everyone for this and future generations.”
When she is not working, Scoggins actively participates in strong woman competitions.
“I’ve been really into strength sports for the past five or so years enjoying that. So, being a strong woman is really cool. I really like that. Outside of the gym, I like to bake and sew and read. Getting my creative mind going is fun. I also play viola,” said Scoggins.
Brandon Steele, is also an environmental engineer but with a focus in chemistry. For USACE, Steele specializes in the chemical engineering aspects of remediation. One of the biggest responsibilities for his job as an environmental engineer is holding the safety, health and welfare of the public in high regard.
“That’s what it’s all about. We make decisions that impact the public and are for their benefit and to improve their lives,” said Steele. “My job is to inform, as a project chemist, is to inform our technical managers of how to make informed decisions based on the data.”
Steele enjoys the challenges that come along with the engineering field, but he also enjoys spending time teaching himself guitar to play in his church band, spending time with his wife, and advancing his golf skills.
Gary Grunwald is a structural engineer in the district’s navigation design section where he plays an integral role on the design of the New Soo Lock Chamber in Sault Ste. Marie, Mich.
“You don’t learn about navigation projects in school. So, when you come here and find out that this is such a unique project, it really gives you a sense of fulfillment,” said Grunwald.
Grunwald was drawn to the engineering profession because of his interest in math and his childhood fascination with drawing house plans and playing with Legos.
“Structural engineering is a subgenre of civil engineering, and civil engineering is anything engineering with the world including buildings, bridges, roads, and the environment,” Grunwald said. “Basically, we make sure stuff doesn’t fall down.”
When Grunwald isn’t working, his interests primarily consist of being president of the Louisville Rowing Club, educating people about the sport, and “creating a place where people feel like they belong.”
Senior project engineer Steve Skaggs negotiates contracts and designs and coordinates with in-house engineers and architects to check compliance with contracts, design codes and criteria. Skaggs was drawn to the field of engineering after a four-week program hosted by the University of Louisville’s J.B. Speed School of Engineering introduced students to engineering and his affinity for math and science made the field a good fit.
“Engineers make a difference in how we all live by solving problems and making life easier,” said Skaggs. It is making a difference and the ability to work on unique projects that excites Skaggs about his job. In his spare time, Skaggs enjoys traveling with his wife, reading and playing golf.
Andrew McCauley, project engineer for the engineering management branch, has a degree in mechanical engineering.
“My position involves managing the design of Army Reserve Centers, aircraft hangers and other vertical construction needs that our customers request. We work mainly with Architect/Engineering Firms, but also with in-house designers for this work,” said McCauley.
McCauley joined USACE because he feels the work is fulfilling and because he believes we are helping provide the best facilities possible for our troops. What really excites him about his position, however, is getting to see a plan come together.
“We work through the development of the design all the way through the construction and commissioning of the new building. It’s exciting getting to see that finished project that everyone worked hard as a team to achieve,” said McCauley.
His interests outside of work include playing soccer, spending time with family, traveling, and enjoying Louisville’s food and drink scene with friends.
Bill Dorsch, a civil engineer, graduated from Purdue University and focuses on designing both Civil Works and Military facility projects to include airfield design, barracks site design, dam design and repairs, levee design and much more.
“The interesting part of my career is the varied projects that I have been able to design from runway reconstruction projects at Ft. Campbell and Ft. Knox to Army Reserve Centers around the country, levees, and dam rehabilitation at Rough River. Being a civil engineer for the Louisville District is never boring,” said Dorsch.
Outside of work, Dorsch’s interests consist of ATV/UTV off-road trail riding, taking road trips, vacationing in the Caribbean, and raising a family with his wife.
Neal Ralston, graduate of University of Kentucky, studied civil engineering and works now as a cost engineer.
“I work to determine the ‘fair and reasonable’ cost that the government should pay on our construction projects,” said Ralston. “We will typically be setting budgets for projects years in advance, making sure designs are staying within budget, or developing the Independent Government Estimate, which is used in part to award contracts.”
He has many engineers in his family and took an interest in the field at an early age, but what excited Ralston about his position is the constant opportunity to learn.
“I work with a group of very smart people and am always learning something from them. Every project no matter how similar it seems in the beginning, ends up being a learning opportunity,” said Ralston.
These engineers, like so many others, comprise a massive team that reimagines the future for communities across the nation, and they had plenty advice for the engineers of tomorrow.
“When you find the thing you really like, it clicks. Just get out there and try it,” said Scoggins. “Experience all you can experience and try to find that thing that lights a fire in your heart.”
“If you’re considering engineering,” said Steele, “dive into your curiosity and the scientific process. Get your hands dirty. Try stuff out.”
“Don’t get discouraged,” Grunwald added. “You’ll be surprised how far you can really go just by trying and being friendly and respectful. Just be the best person you can be and don’t worry if something bad happens. Just get back on the horse and get back at it.”