Students and team members benefit from association

Published March 1, 2010

Community involvement is a vital part of the Corps of Engineers’ culture. Along with technical presentations, Middle East District team members participate in many career and cultural events at local schools.

Recently, MED professionals volunteered as judges for the local High Schools and Middle School science fairs. Volunteers are enthusiastic about the opportunity to judge; they report being ‘recharged’ by the experience.

“I love judging these science fairs,” said six-time judge Robert Lamanque, Project Management Division whose wife Rory, an RN, also judges. “It is good for us to get out there and see these bright kids and positive energy – makes us feel better about the future and the next generation we will be turning the world over to. There’s a lot of good news; it’s not all doom and gloom like we’re sometimes led to believe.

“At the science fair, you will see poised, knowledgeable, articulate, respectful and attuned young leaders,” he said. “They are all winners … They get my time helping judge, but I get inspiration from them.”

“The science fair was excellent, as always,” said repeat volunteer judge Bill Ryals, Iraq Branch chief. “Although the high school fair was smaller this year with only 100 projects entered, it didn’t lack enthusiasm or talent. The Grand Champion was a project on genetic associations with Alzheimer’s disease; the Most Innovative was a project on Chemical Exposure Does Not Affect the Pitch of Guitar Strings.

“The Math and Science teachers have done a very good job teaching and inspiring students,” Ryals said. “It shows in the detail and types of projects they undertook. Many of the students were able to completely brief their projects as if they were college level – and some of the projects definitely were at college level.”

“It was quite the experience,” said IT Specialist Amit Barman. “I enjoyed seeing all the potential in the students and was quite taken with the aptitude and ability of some of them.”

MathCounts is another event that MED employees support annually. This program is a national enrichment, club and competition program that promotes middle school mathematics achievement.

“Eight middle schools participated in the competition this year at Daniel Morgan Middle School,” said Transatlantic Division’s Ravi Seam, MathCounts coordinator for the Blue Ridge Region of Virginia. “About one-third of the volunteers were from the TAD and MED organizations. Donn Booker, President of Blue Ridge Post of the Society of American Military Engineers, one of the local sponsors of the event, presented the awards to the winners.”

“The event was very successful with a total of 49 contestants from eight different middle schools,” said Seam. “We had 21 engineers from TAD and MED, as well as private industry and retirees.

“Daniel Morgan Middle School won the team competition and Mr. Vogler’s [Chief of Engineering Division] son Noah also from Daniel Morgan Middle School was the individual winner for this region. State competition will be held in March,” Seam said.

“It's such a great opportunity to take part in a program like this, seeing the bright minds of our youth, building on today's tomorrow for our next generation of astronauts, engineers and scientists,” said Booker. “The support from coaches, parents and volunteers makes it a community project.”

Release no. 13-047