The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Engineer Regiment hosted a senior delegation of Brazilian Army engineer officers Nov. 13 to 16, for a wide-ranging tour as part of an ongoing military engineering partnership between the two nations.
The Brazilian delegation included Gen. Anisio David de Oliveira Jr., chief of the Brazilian Army Dept. of Engineering and Construction, Maj. Gen. Everton Pacheco da Silva, Brazilian military attaché in Washington, and other senior officers.
U.S. Army Engineer leaders escorted the delegation to the USACE Mississippi Valley Division (MVD) headquarters and USACE Engineering Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, Mississippi; the U.S. Army Engineer School at Ft. Leonard Wood, Missouri; and the Pentagon and USACE Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
“We were incredibly proud to host Gen. David and his team's visit with our engineer family. The relationship we share with our Brazilian counterparts is extremely important to us both,” said U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Kimberly M. Colloton, USACE deputy commanding general for military and international operations. “Our ongoing dialogue over many years enables us to explore new ideas to help each other to address existing and emerging environmental and climate risks, understand design and construction challenges, and share best practices for solving our nations’ toughest problems.”
While at MVD on Nov. 13, the delegation received a brief by the division’s commanding general, Brig. Gen. Kimberly A. Peeples, about the importance of the Mississippi Valley Division and its mission to serve the region by providing vital public engineering services and stewardship of water resource infrastructure, partnering in peace and war, strengthening the nation’s security, energizing the economy, and reducing risks from disasters.
The delegation rode an inspection barge along the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, where they met the USACE Vicksburg District commander, Col. Christopher Klein, and learned about the Mat Sinking Unit (MSU). The MSU places hundreds of thousands of articulated concrete mats, also known as revetment, along the Mississippi River to protect flood control works, prevent riverbank erosion, and provide navigable waterways for commercial transportation. The unit’s work spans the jurisdictions of the Memphis, Vicksburg, and New Orleans districts and more than 1,500 miles of river.
During their Nov. 14 visit to ERDC, the delegation received overviews of a variety of coastal, digital and geotechnical technology. They visited the Coastal and Hydraulics Laboratory for a presentation on the center’s ship simulator and physical river models. At the Information Technology Laboratory, they received more information about CAD/BIM technology, and at the Geotechnical and Structures Laboratory, they learned about ERDC research in the area of post blast forensics.
At Ft. Leonard Wood on Nov. 15, the delegation met U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Beck, commanding general of the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Ft. Leonard Wood. They learned about the U.S. Army Engineer School and even tried out bulldozer simulators. They visited the Contingency Basing Integration Training and Evaluation Center (CBITEC), which provides U.S. Army Prime Power School students with testing facilities throughout their year-long training program. They also visited combat engineer mine detection dogs and learned about their training program.
Ft. Leonard Wood is the home of the U.S. Army Engineer Regiment, which encompasses over a dozen engineer-related military occupational specialties and represents more than 80,000 uniformed personnel assigned to Engineer units across the active Army, National Guard and Army Reserve.
The visit concluded in Washington, D.C., Nov. 16, where the delegation visited the Pentagon, including the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works and the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Energy and Environment. They were welcomed to the USACE headquarters by Colloton, who also joined them for dinner along with U.S. Army Maj. Gen. William “Butch” Graham, deputy chief of engineers and USACE deputy commanding general, and other senior USACE leaders. The dinner also included a performance by the U.S. Army Band.
“The delegation was very impressed with how well they were received in all visits and especially at the dinner,” said Marcelo Salles, USACE South Atlantic Division’s international program manager, who accompanied the Brazilian leaders throughout the trip. “The Army Band was a great success.”
Regular visits between the Brazilian and U.S. armies’ chiefs of engineers began in 2006, along with other long-running initiatives to continually enhance engineering partnership and increase technical interoperability between the two armies.
Another key feature of the U.S.-Brazilian army engineer partnership is the ongoing Military Personnel Exchange Program, which started approximately 20 years ago. The current MPEP positions were established 10 years ago and include a Brazilian colonel at MVD’s division headquarters, a Brazilian colonel at ERDC, and a U.S. Army captain serving in the Brazilian Army’s 1st Engineer Group.
On Thursday, Nov. 9, Council leaders of the Gila River Indian Community, led by Governor Stephen Roe Lewis, signed an agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to begin work on a solar-covered canal pilot project on the Tribe’s Level Top Canal.
The historic agreement was approved by the GRIC Council on November 1.
The agreement starts the first phase of the solar-over-canal project and will involve construction of solar panels over a portion of the Community’s 1-10 Level Top canal to conserve water and generate renewable energy for tribal irrigation facilities.
This historic agreement represents the first solar-over-canal project of its kind in the United States to initiate construction. The cost of Phase I of the solar-covered canal project is estimated to be $6.744 million, and it is expected to produce approximately 1 MW of renewable energy to offset energy needs and costs for tribal farmers.
With the execution of this historic agreement, the Army Corps will now begin the actual construction phase of the project, with completion expected in 2025.
In his remarks during the event, Governor Lewis offered his appreciation to Michael Connor, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works for his partnership in this project.
“I want to personally thank Assistant Secretary Connor for his vision and steadfast support for this innovative project. Our work with the Assistant Secretary dates back decades and the Community deeply appreciates him and his support.”
ADWR Director Tom Buschatzke attended the signing ceremony.
“This is the type of creative thinking that can help move all of us toward a more sustainable future,” said Director Buschatzke.
“Leveraging existing infrastructure such as the Level Top Canal to help provide sustainable, dependable energy – and to do so as part of cooperative partnership like this one – constitutes a win all around.”
Following remarks from Governor Lewis and Assistant Secretary Connor, the parties signed the agreement to begin construction of the project, which is designed to generate clean, renewable energy as well as help reduce evaporation.
A “Project Partnership Agreement,” or PPA, is a legally binding agreement between the federal government and a non-Federal sponsor such as state or municipal governments, or, as in this instance, a Native American Tribe. The projects historically involve construction of a water resources project.
The PPA describes the project and the responsibilities of the federal government and the non-federal sponsor in the cost sharing and execution of work.
No one likes to do the maintenance. That’s true whether talking about a house, a car or multi-million-dollar missile defense infrastructure. Or so says Brian Ball, the chief of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Middle East District’s (TAM) Procurements and Services Branch.
The branch can provide regular and corrective maintenance for facilities, equipment, procurement of spare parts & consumables, and new or replacement construction for facility related equipment, building renovations as well as training and professional services support.
“We build some really great facilities for our mission partners,” said Ball. “But even the best facilities only last if you maintain them. Our District has had a presence in the Middle East for over 70 years and some of our early projects are still around today. But we’ve also seen cases where we built something, no one does the maintenance on it, and even just a few years later its fallen into a state of disrepair.”
TAM is unique among USACE districts in that most of it’s work is done on behalf of U.S. allied nation partners. When the U.S. sells weapons systems or military equipment (aircraft, missile defense, etc.) through foreign military sales cases, those nations will often pay TAM to build the infrastructure for those systems. Using USACE helps ensure what’s known as a “total package approach and means that the FMS partner will not only receive the actual equipment but that the infrastructure to support it is built by an organization familiar with the requirements. It can also include follow on material such as spare parts and training to help ensure everything is kept in good working order.
Ball said that using his branch benefits his district and USACE as well as their mission partners.
“It's in our best interest to see the facilities we build reach their full service-life potential and not fall into disrepair,” Ball stated. “Our customers benefit from that increase in facility lifespan and from not having to dedicate their own time and personnel to maintenance activities. We benefit because these big, fancy, impressive buildings we’ve built remain in good condition and can serve as showpieces and points of advertisement for USACE’s design and construction quality.”
According to Ball, one of the biggest challenges of his job is convincing the district’s mission partners to use his services.
“It’s sometimes hard to measure success in a program that’s meant to prevent something bad from happening rather than just building something. What I will say is that I’ve yet to see an instance where a mission partner has asked us to stop providing O&M services on any facility once we’ve put a program in place."
Ball was also quick to attribute much of the success his branch to the district’s contracting section.
“Anything you could say about the uniqueness of our mission in (TAM) Programs and Project Management, you can say about them in the context of the USACE Contracting Community and our contracting section. “What we do is not unique but the expertise with which we are able to do it providing our mission partners with what they need when they need it is. This is something we’ve developed over time and we’d love to see utilized more and more.”
In September, the St. Paul District conducted an on-site training event with federal and state partners to look at past and ongoing island projects to determine the best path forward for restoration projects as part of the Upper Mississippi River Restoration program, or UMRR.
Participants included representatives from the Corps and agency representatives from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as from the Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa departments of natural resources.
“Today is a training exercise,” said Scott Baker, Winona resident engineer. “We are seeing some typical projects to talk about lessons learned, what worked well and what didn’t work well, so that knowledge can be incorporated into future projects.”
The team of agency representatives visited Conway Lake and Harpers Slough restoration projects, in Pool 9 of the Mississippi River, which were completed in 2022. The team also visited McGregor Lake Habitat Rehabilitation and Enhancement Project, an active construction project.
“These exercises are important because we’re getting more money for island projects, and we have more projects now in various phases than we’ve ever had before,” said Baker.
Baker explained that these projects are important for wildlife.
“The river is losing habitat at a very fast rate. The islands are disappearing, which had lead to increasingly turbulent water and light can’t get through to help the vegetation grow. That habitat and vegetation is particularly important for migratory birds,” said Baker.
UMRR started in 1986 when environmentalists filed a lawsuit when Lock and Dam 27 was built, wanting environmental work done on the river. The compromise started the Environmental Management Program, which would become UMRR. It was authorized for $200 million over a 20-year period and was reauthorized in 2006.
UMRR ensures the coordinated development and enhancement of the Upper Mississippi River system with a primary emphasis on habitat restoration projects and resource monitoring. In the 36-year history of the program, more than 55 habitat projects benefiting approximately 100,000 acres from Minneapolis to St. Louis, have been completed.
“I enjoy these projects in particular because you can see tangible results for future generations to enjoy the wildlife,” said Baker.
Historic flooding of the Upper Missouri River Basin in 2011 prompted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District to explore additional solutions in improving flood prediction. This led to the implementation of Project Snowpack, a multi-state and federal agency program that will revolutionize floodplain management throughout the region.
The project utilizes a network of mesonet stations, designed to observe mesoscale meteorological phenomena and microclimates to better understand local weather patterns. The stations are fitted with equipment that reports the soil moisture, ground temperature, snow depth, wind speed and direction, solar radiation, relative humidity, precipitation, and air temperature every five minutes along with cameras to capture variations in surrounding snow depth caused by snow drift.
The Omaha District’s Civil Works Design and Planning Branch was at the forefront of the effort in creating partnerships – public, private, and Tribal, who will work together to expand the network across five states. This includes providing the resources, connections and coordination for the project.
“We are essentially planning, designing and implementing [the project] all at once, which makes it both exciting and challenging at the same time,” said Carlie Hively, USACE project manager for Project Snowpack.
Project partners include meteorologists and technicians from the University of Montana, University of Wyoming, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, North Dakota State University and South Dakota State University.
Nathan Edwards, the mesonet operations manager at SDSU’s Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, explained that one of the hardest elements to monitor is water content in packed snow.
“Snow on the ground is just precipitation that has yet to actually fall,” Edwards said. “Without knowing the depth of snow across the upper Missouri basin, snowmelt predictions can have a wide margin of error. In the past we have always worked to track precipitation, and now with these new monitors, being able to extend that into the winter is a big step forward.”
Project Snowpack is in the process of building one mesonet station every 500 square miles across the Upper Missouri River Basin, covering rural areas that previously had no local forecasting available. The stations provide readings (data-sets) every five minutes, improving emergency response times for severe weather emergencies such as flash flooding and tornadoes.
“Weather is something that impacts every single South Dakotan. It has been so rewarding to give South Dakotans the weather monitoring they deserve,” Edwards added.
The project will also provide valuable insight to improve agriculture through wind, temperature and humidity monitoring. Tracking these conditions assists agriculturists in planning for range movement, best times to plant and fertilize crops, and identification of drought conditions.
“Partnership between USACE, SDSU and the other universities involved in the project ensures the successful ongoing implementation of Project Snowpack,” said John Remus, Chief of the USACE Missouri River Basin Water Management Division. “The states played a really big role in the technical part of planning this and they’re playing a huge role in implementing it.”
According to Remus, the utilization of existing centers of expertise like the universities is “a great example of having the right people do what they do best.”
Mesonet stations that were installed prior to USACE’s involvement have now been updated with ultra-modern monitoring technology; and the continued implementation is now federally funded as part of the project.
To date, approximately 170 mesonet stations have been installed and the data provided is available for federal, state and local agencies to use.
In its completed state, the data pulled from the network will allow USACE to better plan dam retention and water releases to help mitigate flooding, Remus explained. Even more importantly is how the data will bolster the planning for flood fighting efforts. Knowing where flood fighting will likely be needed allows USACE and its partners to better position resources to be available where they are needed most, he added.
The project is expected to be completed in 2027 and will include 540 mesonet weather stations across the entire Upper Missouri River Basin covering 270,000 contiguous square-miles, making it the largest network of its kind worldwide.
“Although the targeted users [of this project] are the Army Corps of Engineers and its Northwestern Division water reservoir management group, as well as other federal agencies, the benefits get really broad really fast,” Hively said. “It will provide benefits to the agricultural industry, forest and stream management, and researchers will have a ton of fun with all the data that this is providing, not to mention the benefits to climate resiliency itself.”
From the benefits it will provide to future flood and drought mitigation efforts, to improving the lives of agriculturists and rural communities at large, Project Snowpack is going to make a world of difference along the entire upper Missouri River Basin.
Following years of energy-saving successes at Naval Base Guam, the Navy is expanding its partnership with the U.S. Army Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville’s Resource Efficiency Manager Program.
Huntsville Center’s REM program improves installation energy programs by developing site energy and water plans that achieve energy efficiency, reduction, security and resiliency through sustainable and renewable resources. REMs, contracted energy management experts, help energy managers increase energy awareness, collect data for reporting site energy use and management and achieve energy goals and mandates.
REMs have been working with energy managers at Naval Base Guam for over six years to conduct building audits, identify energy conservation measures and develop project documentation for third-party financed energy projects, said Russell Moebes, REM Program project manager.
“They saw the energy savings and projects that have come out of Guam, so they shared those success stories within the Navy and wanted to get REMs out to other installations to help meet their energy goals as well,” said Moebes.
Huntsville Center’s REM Program now has contracts to provide 16 total REMs to Navy Atlantic, Navy Pacific and Navy Far East. Each contract has four unexercised option years and additional unexercised optional REMs if installations need additional support with larger integrated project development.
“Not only are these contracts going to result in cost savings for the Navy, they are also focused on improving energy resiliency, so installations can self-sustain their critical missions,” said Moebes.
For more information about Huntsville Center’s Resource Efficiency Manager Program, visit https://www.hnc.usace.army.mil/Media/Fact-Sheets/Fact-Sheet-Article-View/Article/490651/energy-division-resource-efficiency-managers/.
Beneath a blue sky and nestled among family housing towers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Far East District joined the Ministry of National Defense - Defense Installation Agency (MND-DIA), Eighth Army, U.S. Army Garrison Humphreys and the Department of Defense Education Activity to break ground on a new elementary school for the installation on Sept. 7, 2023.
“The US Army Corps of Engineers Far East District is here to deliver engineering solutions at these historic times for our two nations,” said Col. Heather Levy, FED commander, during the ceremony. “This project is one more example of the strength of the ROK-US alliance, and the strength of the partnership of the engineers here in Korea – and what we all can do together.”
Donning hard hats and shovels, representatives from the Army, MND-DIA, DoDEA, the contractor and students lined up to ceremonially mark the beginning of the new school.
“Education is the backbone to our readiness and an investment in our future,” said Brig. Gen. Sean Crockett, Deputy Commanding General – Operations, Eighth Army. “This building represents expansion. It is the creation of a space where education can build a foundation to flourish in impactful ways.”
The new school will provide capacity for 440 students and staff with the ability to accommodate up to 600. The facility will be the third elementary and fifth school constructed by FED on the garrison.
“With Humphreys West, and Humphreys Central already serving our military connected students and their families, this third elementary school is rightfully named Humphreys East Elementary School and will bring our total capacity of elementary spaces at Camp Humphreys to nearly 2,400 students,” said Dr. Jacob Sherwood, DoDEA Pacific West Superintendent.
The project also encompasses the creation of a multipurpose athletic field and a nature walking path. It will also have an outdoor learning lab, an outdoor classroom, a sensory garden and an ecology walking loop to contribute to the outdoor environment of the school.
“Oftentimes, school is one of the first places families find connection and community upon arrival to an overseas duty assignment,” Sherwood said. “Within the walls of the school we are officially breaking ground on today, friendships will be formed. Skills will be built. Academics will be learned. And for decades to come, parents, staff, and the Humphreys community will come together to support our youngest military-connected children in this facility.”
A bilateral endeavor, FED designed the school and MND-DIA issued the construction contract.
“For this, by supervising the project jointly between DIA and FED, we shall provide an elementary school with the highest quality,” said Col. Lee, Inchul, MND-DIA USFK Program Division Chief.
Levy emphasized the amount of partnership projects like this take between the two agencies.
“We at the Far East District don’t accomplish anything in isolation,” she said. “We rely on our counterparts at MND-DIA to work side by side to ensure safety, quality, and adherence to the schedule and cost controls.”
The event concluded with representatives participating in a traditional Korean prayer for good fortune on the project.
“This project is a true depiction of unity and the ROK-US Alliance,” Crockett said. “None of this would be possible without the Republic of Korea, Ministry of Defense. Through their support, this building represents the U.S. and Republic of Korea’s aligned goals to achieve mission readiness through the prioritization of people.”
“I love it when a plan comes together,” is an often-quoted line from the 80’s television show “The A-Team.” However, for the Planning and Requirements team with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Transatlantic Middle East District (TAM), the quote might more accurately be “I love it when a master plan comes together.”
Comprised of professionals with backgrounds in engineering, planning, architecture, contracting and other disciplines, Planning and Requirements looks at the district’s U.S. and allied nation mission partners’ long-term infrastructure requirements and defines how to provide planning support for those requirements. Typically, requirements include a host of factors impacting construction or expansion of military bases in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. Those bases are essentially small cities with the Planning and Requirements branch fulfilling the function of city planners.
Sean Martin, the head of TAM’s Planning and Requirements branch, said in order to be successful, his team needs to be able to do a bit of everything.
“Our efforts can include hydrology analysis, geospatial support for real estate validation, knowing and validating host nation environmental governing standards and everything in between. We recently had to do an archaeological and cultural analysis for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This type of project was a first for our District – even though many of us have supported similar work in previous positions.”
One of 9 specialized planning staffs in USACE, TAM’s Regional Planning Support Center is a relatively recent addition to the District having been stood up within the last five (5) years. Despite being a relatively new branch, they are already making a big impact having been recognized by the Federal Planning Division of the American Planning Association. The branch won an award for “Outstanding Federal Planning Project” on behalf of the U.S. Air Force in the CENTCOM AOR. The project involved developing a flexible execution strategy presented in clear, concise narratives, as well as two- and three-dimensional graphics, illustrations, and video to validate 210 projects valued at $1 billion.
Vanessa Francis Gray, a community planner for the branch said that working on the team and seeing their achievements as been rewarding to her.
“I’m near my three-year anniversary at TAM and it has been a great experience. The TAM Planning and Requirements branch is a laboratory on how to successfully apply planning concepts to complex, high stakes projects. Since my time at the branch, I have worked on a variety of projects including redevelopment plans for host nation critical infrastructure and installation master planning for joint U.S.-Host Nation missions.
One of the most rewarding projects I have worked on is a master planning effort for one of our allied nation partners for a National Defense University. The project combined several of my interests: urban planning and education. I come from a family of teachers and learned over many years about the specific needs of school facilities. This part of my background served me well while creating recommendations and short- to long-term development strategies.”
Martin said what his branch brings to the table is a comprehensive and deliberate approach to projects large and small.
“Planning bring discipline to a process and establishes a solid baseline condition to craft every conceivable alternative as well as gaining new information.
Most planners are not subject matter experts in a significantly wide range of topics, although all USACE planners gain a wide range of knowledge over time. Planners are SMEs in converting conversations to actionable tasks, in analyzing incomplete information to craft a way ahead to successful resolution to minimize impacts to direct, secondary, and even tertiary interactions.”
Leaders, scientists and engineers from the Mekong region and the United States are joining together to address increasing challenges over water security and river management.
Preparations are underway in Hawaii and California for next week’s arrival of a high-level Mekong River Commission (MRC-Mekong) delegation, which heads to the United States as part of the annual Sister Rivers Partnership Exchange program. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), the MRC-Mekong delegates are scheduled to meet with the Mississippi River Commission (MRC-USA) to exchange best practices on water and river management. The two commissions will be joined by a third water commission, the International Water and Boundary Commission (IBWC) to learn about how the U.S. and Mexico cooperate on transboundary issues on their shared rivers.
From the MRC-Mekong side, the August 14–18 exchange will include discussions on the five most “troubling” trends currently facing the Mekong River Basin: changing flow regime, sediment flow, salinity intrusion, plastic pollution, and flood and drought exacerbated by climate change. The USACE Pacific Ocean Division (POD) Commanding General, Brig. Gen. Kirk E. Gibbs, will welcome the MRC-Mekong delegation to California, where they will visit the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, Castaic Pump Storage Power Plant, University of California San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Prado Dam, and an international wastewater treatment plant.
“We’re eager to share the innovative ways that we use infrastructure and cutting edge technology in the U.S. to help monitor water, assess climate impacts, and forecast flooding,” says Gibbs. “While the specific nature of our challenges may differ, we share a common goal: the sustainable management and development of water resources. This enhances stability in the region and supports an economically prosperous, socially just, environmentally sound and climate resilient Mekong River Basin.”
Embracing this multilateral exchange is the CEO of Mekong River Commission Secretariat, Dr. Anoulak Kittikhoun, together with the “Heads of Delegation” and Joint Committee members from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Viet Nam.
“Experience is the best teacher, and we learn more how to tackle our own challenges as we go along – what works and what doesn’t,” says Kittikhoun. “But through partnerships like this with the Mississippi River Commission and USACE, we also benefit by learning from their experiences and expertise.”
Brig. Gen. Kimberly Peeples, the MRC-USA president and USACE Mississippi Valley Division commanding general, emphasized the importance of international collaboration to address shared challenges.
“Water is a universal necessity. With climate change, how we manage this essential resource must adapt to existing and new water related challenges,” says Peeples. “This partnership is a forum to do just that: collaborate and share our knowledge, our best practices and mistakes, so we can work together to meet these challenges head on. At the same time, enhance capabilities of impacted communities in both the Mississippi and Mekong delta regions.”
The imminent Sister Rivers Partnership Exchange will also include Dr. Maria-Elena Giner, the U.S. commissioner for the IBWC, and Commissioner Adriana Reséndez of Mexico’s Comision Internacional de Limites y Agua (CILA). They will share how the U.S. and Mexico cooperate on water, energy, climate change, and mutual challenges along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Sister Rivers Partnership was launched in 2010 to formalize collaboration in water resource management; the exchange program accomplishes this through its promotion of international collaboration, technical exchanges, and sharing of best practices, which enhances transboundary river governance, disaster risk mitigation, and sustainable development – all aimed to promote stability and prosperity.
After a two-year hiatus due to COVID restrictions on travel, the exchange program resumed last July, when an MRC-USA delegation visited with their Mekong counterparts in Lao PDR and Cambodia. During that exchange, the two commissions also renewed their five-year Memorandum of Understanding, which covers 11 areas of cooperation related to water resources management.
About the Mekong River Commission: The MRC-Mekong is an intergovernmental organization established in 1995 to boost regional dialogue and cooperation in the Lower Mekong River Basin. Based on the Mekong Agreement among Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam, the MRC-Mekong serves as both a regional platform for water diplomacy and a knowledge hub – to manage water resources and support sustainable development of the region.
About the Mississippi River Commission: The MRC-USA was established by an Act of Congress on June 28, 1879. The MRC-USA provides water resources engineering direction and policy advice to the Administration, Congress and the Army in a drainage basin that covers 41 percent of the U.S. and parts of two Canadian provinces by overseeing the planning and reporting on the improvements on the Mississippi River. The intent behind the mission of the MRC-USA today is the same as the mission placed on the commission upon its creation—to lead sustainable management and development of water related resources for the nation’s benefit and the people’s well-being.
About the Pacific Ocean Division: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Pacific Ocean Division has a highly diverse workforce of over 1,600 military, civilian and local national team members. The POD mission includes engineering design, construction and real estate management for the Army in Hawaii, Army and Air Force in Alaska, and for all Department of Defense Services and Agencies in Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Kwajalein Atoll, Marshall Islands. The Division also administers the Corps’ federal water resource development program and waters and wetlands regulatory programs in Alaska, Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The POD program includes the multi-year $10.7 billion Korea Transformation Program and the $15.8 billion U.S. Japan Defense Policy Review Initiative. POD also supports U.S Indo-Pacific Command’s and U.S. Army Pacific’s Theater Security Cooperation strategies, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response (HA/DR) Program, and Civil-Military Emergency Preparedness with projects throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has announced the signing of an Educational Partnership Agreement and a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the United States Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC), the premier research and development center for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The EPA between UIUC and the U.S. Army ERDC will encourage and enhance study in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields, such as materials engineering, computer and data science, digital twinning, material science, physics, robotics, supply chain logistics, and sustainability and resilience.
Meanwhile, the CRADA will enable closer collaboration with ERDC and UIUC, especially with the Grainger College of Engineering, in research efforts of interest to the military.
These agreements cement a long-standing relationship between UIUC and ERDC. The UIUC campus has played host to the Construction Engineering Research Laboratory, one of ERDC’s seven laboratories, since 1969.
“Under this partnership, CERL reaches into the university for support from UIUC students and interns who work with CERL engineers and scientists to conduct cutting-edge R&D while working side-by-side with some of the best researchers in the world,” said Dr. David Pittman, director of the ERDC and chief scientist for the Army Corps of Engineers. “Quite simply, successful outcomes to the CERL and ERDC mission would not be possible without the support of these students, interns and faculty."
Highlights of that strategic partnership include adapting 3D printing methodology for additive construction; developing an improved system for washing military vehicles; creating the Digital Opacity Method, which used off-the-shelf still cameras and modeling software to measure atmospheric plume opacity efficiently and accurately; developing a facility for earthquake engineering and shock testing; and evaluating micro-hydro units for army resilience.
“UIUC has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the ERDC that began more than 50 years ago with the founding of CERL on our campus. Our civil and environmental engineers, among others, have partnered with CERL scientists to solve some of our military’s most immediate and complex challenges,” said Rashid Bashir, dean of UIUC’s Grainger College of Engineering. “This agreement will further reduce the barriers of collaboration between our two organizations to enhance educational efforts that are essential to our nation’s well-being.”