Many in the military associate the Middle East with deployments but four future officers recently experienced a whole other side of the region during a training visit to Jordan.
Reserve Officer Training Corps Cadets Allure Adams, an engineering major from Emory Riddle University, Leslie Ortega, a computer Science Major from California State, Long beach, Keith Haw, a psychology major at the University of Michigan and Jaqueline Aparicio, also an engineering major, joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM) as part of the cadet summer training program.
The program exposes soon to be Army Officers to career fields in which they might become future leaders. TAM has projects spread across nine countries in the Middle East and does work for both the U.S. military and allied nation mission partners. Each summer the district hosts 3-4 cadets at its headquarters in Winchester, VA and then sends them to one of its field officers to visit construction sites as well as experience host nation sites and culture.
In addition to visiting runway and hangar construction projects on an air base in Jordan, the cadets interacted with Jordanian military officers, learned about various aspects of construction and project management from TAM field personnel and had the opportunity to visit Petra and swim in the Dead Sea.
“For me, it was unique to get to interact with the Jordanian military, have a meal with them, and experience their culture. It was a great experience, said Adams. “The other thing that stuck out to me was the chance to shadow USACE engineers and see what I could potentially be doing.”
Ortega noted that for her, one of the most interesting aspects of her learning experience was the sheer scope of what USACE does.
“One of things I learned while we were in Winchester was how different USACE is from other branches in terms of being around 90 percent civilian and having so many different skillsets. It was also eye opening to learn about all the behind-the-scenes things that impact projects that people may not be aware of such as environmental considerations and impact on local communities and how the Corps has to take those into account on projects,” she said.
Aparicio, who was traveling overseas for the first time, said she went in with a positive view of the engineer branch, but the experience made her more likely to pursue opportunities with USACE (USACE is primarily civilian with a small number of engineer branch officers).
“There were some things I didn’t realize about USACE like the opportunity to interact with other countries like we saw with the Jordanian military, she said.”
While the two engineering majors said they had always planned on putting the engineer branch as their top career choice, this experience made them more likely to want to work for the Corps.
Haw and Ortega both said they were seriously considering changing their top choice because of the experience.
“Intelligence was my top choice going into this,” said Haw, “but this really gave me a lot of experience with the engineering branch that influenced my decision. Engineering is now going to be my top choice.”
Ortega echoed that noting that as a computer science major, cyber is still her top choice but she’s giving engineering serious consideration. “The project management experience you get with USACE is really valuable,” she said. “It’s definitely something I’d consider.”
ROTC cadets can learn more about summer training opportunities by visiting Cadet Internships (army.mil). More information about TAM’s Cadet summer program experience can be found here: DVIDS - Video - Middle East District Supports Cadet Engineer Intern Program (dvidshub.net)