USACE Buffalo District Visits the Buffalo Museum of Science

Published Feb. 17, 2016
USACE team members Weston Cross and Adam Hamm demonstrate the technology used for inspection dives

USACE team members Weston Cross and Adam Hamm demonstrate the technology used for inspection dives

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 inspections.

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 of Engineers.

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 hydrogen disulfide.

 “It's relatively 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.