In celebration of National Engineer’s Week, the U.S. Army
Corps of Engineers (USACE), Buffalo District visited the Buffalo Museum of Science,
Buffalo, NY for hands-on engineering lessons, environmental monitoring, and
dive team demonstrations, February 16, 2016.
Buffalo District team members Weston Cross, Adam Hamm, Mat
Masset, and Neil Miller braved a late winter snowstorm to share their knowledge
and expertise in diving, structural and coastal engineering and radiological
and chemical environmental monitoring.
Dive Team members Weston Cross a USACE geologist and Adam
Hamm a civil engineer, brought out an impressive collection of diving
equipment, including a massive 30-pound dive helmet, to demonstrate the
engineering and science behind the equipment used during typical dive
Youngsters were in awe as they listened to Cross and Hamm
recount a recent dive situation involving alligator-infested waters. Attendees
were also invited to try to lift the deceptively hefty dive helmet. Cross and
Hamm’s infectious enthusiasm easily filled the cavernous Hamlin Hall in which
they set up shop for the day.
“All of the kids and parents really interacted well and
seemed to get a good understanding of why we do underwater inspections and how
we use engineering to help accomplish that.
It was a very worthwhile experience and I look forward to doing this
again next year,” said Hamm.
Across the hall from the dive team, Environmental Health
Physicist Neil Miller displayed the equipment used to detect radiation for use
in environmental remediation projects. His gear included a Geiger counter, an
alpha/beta scintillation detector and a portable gamma spectroscopy detector. These
tools demonstrate the complex, intricate, and highly technical process by which
environmental investigations are conducted. Miller’s comprehensive discourse
underscores the wealth and breadth of technical expertise offered by the Corps
Chemist Mat Masset demonstrated ground water sampling field
instruments that included a peristaltic pump with a water quality meter. He
also displayed a handheld X-ray fluorescent analyzer used for detecting metals,
a photo ionization detector used for field screening for volatile organic
compounds, and a four-gas analyzer used to detect oxygen, carbon monoxide, and
easy to explain the simplistic nature of the instruments as they either perform
a task (pump water) or measure something (water quality meter). The attendees liked the hands on approach as
they want to hold the instruments and see what it does,” said Masset.
“Outreach events like this provide us a wonderful
opportunity to show children that science and engineering don't just happen on
paper or in the classroom. It is always
great to allow children to get a hands on experience in how these important
concepts are put into place in real world situations that they may not otherwise
have thought about,” said Cross.
Volunteer efforts such as these by USACE Buffalo District
team members bring invaluable learning opportunities to the community and make
National Engineer’s Week a resounding success.