The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District has two employees, Greg Kiaer and Melissa Tarasiewicz, who were selected for, and graduated from the USACE’s Engineer Research Development Center University (ERDC-U) program in 2018.
ERDC-U is a six-month developmental opportunity for Corps of Engineers’ engineers and scientists across the nation providing opportunities to partner with laboratory scientists and subject matter experts to apply and implement technical solutions to enhance the Corps of Engineers’ mission. The Corps of Engineers is a globally-recognized leader in military and civil engineering and science, and this program is designed to enhance those capabilities further.
Each candidate applied for ERDC-U during the application solicitation in late 2017.
The application process requires the applicants to provide a letter of intent stating their own biography and statement of interests, specifically identifying goals and motivation for applying for the assignment. Letters of endorsement were from the applicant’s immediate supervisor and the District Chain of Command, demonstrating the high standard for an individual to be selected.
Kiaer and Tarasiewicz were two selected candidates out of ten chosen, making up 20-percent of the total participants for the 2018 program, signifying Buffalo District’s highly skilled workforce.
Kiaer, a civil engineer, was selected for his background in coastal engineering. During his six-months at ERDC-U, he applied his technical knowledge by identifying the type and location of over 200 rubble-mounded coastal protection structures located on the North Atlantic, Great Lakes, and Gulf of Mexico coasts. His research included quantifying external forcing data and compiling structural configuration data that describes side slopes, stone sizes, material type structure heights, widths, and specific weights of coastal infrastructure.
Kiaer was then tasked with performing a statistical probabilistic analysis of extreme tropical and extra-tropical cyclone events, as well as computing structural reliability assessments.
“It was a pleasurable experience to have worked with such a talented group of coastal engineers and meteorologists at ERDC,” Kiaer said as he reflects on his time at ERDC-U. “I can only believe that I accomplished a considerable amount of research, and at the same time gained an equivalent amount of knowledge towards advancement of their Probabilistic Coastal Hazard Assessment Program. I am convinced the results of this research will benefit Corps of Engineers districts in the areas of study, by knowing with more confidence, their structures will be reliable during extreme storm events.”
Tarasiewicz, a biologist, was selected for her background in regulatory and botany. She assisted with three research projects during her ERDC-U experience. First, she performed collection of ordinary high water mark (OHWM) and upper extent of stream channels study data at 47 sites spanning Kentucky, Kansas, Colorado, Indiana, and Hawaii; as well as training in Illinois, and Iowa. Stream data collected is being used by ERDC Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory (ERDC-CRREL) to develop a national technical manual for Corps of Engineers regulators nationwide.
Secondly, Tarasiewicz researched vegetation performance standards assessing how Corps of Engineers regulators across the country use vegetation performance standards to help determine the success of wetland mitigation areas.
Ms. Tarasiewicz also collaborated with a small team of ERDC-U participants to initiate field testing of ERDC- Information Technology Laboratory’s (ITL) Mobile Information Collection Application (MICA) software and iPad tablets for regulatory field use.
“It was exciting to work on diverse scientific studies through ERDC-U and connect with researchers, regulators, and staff from across the country” said Tarasiewicz, reflecting on her experience. “The research I conducted and continue to work on, and the professional relationships I made through the program are helping me build the career I want. When complete, these studies have a high likelihood to make everyday tasks and technical challenges less complicated for USACE regulators in Buffalo and across the nation. I am grateful for the opportunity I had to participate in this program and would highly recommend ERDC-U to others.”
Kiaer and Tarasiewicz were successful in the Fiscal Year 2018 ERDC-U program and Buffalo District is proud of the efforts they put forth.
“Tarasiewicz and Kiaer showed exemplary efforts throughout their short time at ERDC-U,” said David Romano, Deputy District Engineer. “They have demonstrated the kind of high standards that Buffalo District employees are known for and truly validate why people depend on the Buffalo District for solutions to complex water resource challenges,".
The deadline for 2019 ERDC-U applications is coming up on November 23, 2018. Buffalo District is supportive of their staff applying for this program that enhances the skills of our technical workforce and the contributions they provide to the United States.
"Based on my experience, ERDC-U is a great developmental opportunity with definite tangible benefits for the Corps of Engineers, ERDC, and the integration of knowledge and technology transfer from ERDC to the Corps of Engineers and Buffalo District,” Tarasiewicz said.