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Posted 4/17/2014

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By Todd Hornback, public affairs

Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers commander and the 53rd chief of engineers, visited the Louisville District headquarters and intertwined meetings with the University of Louisville president, students and the ROTC unit before engaging Fort Knox, Ky., Scott Middle School students and presenting Louisville District employees with a team award.

Bostick’s visit focused on STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics—and its importance to the Corps of Engineers and the nation.

The non-stop tour April 9 and 10 included a meet-and-greet with UofL President Dr. James Ramsey to discuss the importance of students following STEM programs. Although STEM occupations will only be five percent of all jobs in the U.S. economy by 2018, they are critical to the nation’s continued economic competitiveness because of their direct ties to innovation, economic growth, and productivity. The shortage of college graduates in STEM is a concern for the Corps and other federal agencies. The U.S. is currently relying on foreign-born workers to plug the gaps in our STEM workforce, which is normally not an option for the Department of Defense because of citizenship and security clearance requirements.

The U.S. expects 2.4 million STEM job openings by 2018 based on growth and retirements. This fast-growing occupational cluster is second in the U.S. only to the healthcare industry. The nation will need to increase the number of college graduates by approximately one million more STEM professionals to fulfill this requirement.

In an address to approximately 25 UofL students at the J.P. Speed School of Engineering, Bostick stressed the importance of engineering degrees and how these degrees can be used to support the nation and the Army.

Under their slogan, "Battle On!," more than 70 members of the UofL Army ROTC Cardinal Battalion listened to Bostick’s lessons and experiences under the Cherokee Park pavilion where the battalion holds training exercises.

In his address, Bostick gave advice for their success as future Army officers.

"Every day you can walk out in front of your platoon and you can start waxing eloquently and they can’t just about face and leave. You have a captive audience and you ought to take advantage of that opportunity each and every day," Bostick said. "Think about what you want to say What are your messages, what do you think they need to hear, and how do you practice that and develop? You have to communicate so people understand what you are communicating about and what your message is. You’ll see when you’re in the Army you’re going to do that all the time. So, the best time to practice is soon as you hit the ground. Work on your skills in communication and becoming a leader."

When asked about the future of the Army, Bostick responded, "…That strategy is predominantly we can probably fight about one major contingency…but we can’t execute in Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously in the structure we have. That’s going to drive our structure. The most important thing is to make sure that your organization is trained and ready to do what it needs to do."

In a word of encouragement to the ROTC troops, Bostick stressed what each of them can bring to the future Army from their current training from leaders and books, "You bring that training and it’s fresh—those ideas—and it’s accurate. You hold the standard of what should happen…you make that difference."

Bostick presented three recognitions during a luncheon question and answer session with the Louisville District Leadership Development Program II Class.

Bostick recognized Adam Taylor, Rough River Lake ranger, with the 2013 Hiram M. Chittenden Award for his untiring efforts and contagious enthusiasm in greatly expanding the lake’s volunteer and outreach program. The award recognizes outstanding contributions in interpretation and environmental education by USACE employees in a district or field office.

He presented a coin to Crystal May for her work as a key player in establishing and implementing the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division Centralized Business Oversight Branch in Louisville District. Her work has included developing flow charts and standard operating procedures for the fifteen Regional BOB functions and migrating the SOPs into the Quality Management System.

Matt Lowe, received a commander’s coin, for accepting a six-month resident engineer assignment in Afghanistan that will begin in May.