SEOUL, South Korea—Every summer, Reserve Officer Training Cadets (ROTC) participate in Cadet Troop Leader Training Internships (CTLT) across the Army. CTLT internships provide cadets with an opportunity to exercise specialized language, technical or research skills.
This year, as part of the CTLT’s Engineer Internship Program, cadets traveled to the Far East District from service academies, colleges and universities. Caleb Kowalski, who attends the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Tim Gephart, from the United States Military Academy, are getting a unique experience at the District working on the Korea Relocation Program – one of the largest transformation, re-stationing and construction projects in Department of Defense history.
Kowalski, a mechanical engineering major, said the engineering field has always attracted him and the chance to learn from professionals here at the District was an amazing opportunity.
“I grew up working on cars and motorcycles,” said Kowalski. “I also enjoy construction and the big picture in seeing something being developed. The construction aspect going on here drew me towards this internship.”
He said that he’s followed some of the Korea Program Relocation Office (KPRO) personnel around the project sites and is learning from the way the engineers are working to complete the projects.
“We learned their method of problem solving,” said Kowalski. “A lot of engineering is problem solving and identifying a problem, then finding the most effective ways to solve it.”
Kowalski said he didn’t have many expectations prior to visiting except learning what the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Far East District does here and getting hands on training.
Gephart, a civil engineering major, always knew he wanted to be an engineer, but he wasn’t sure exactly what field until high school.
“I chose civil engineering because I was taking a drafting class and I loved the design aspect,” said Gephart. “I felt that this program was a good way of seeing what the Corps of Engineers actually do.”
He said that he had already some knowledge of the large build up on Camp Humphreys and the fact that the base will be the size of a city. So far, during his experience he mentioned that it was great to see the projects that are at the beginning and ending stage of completion.
“It’s great to see what the Corps is doing and how it operates outside of the U.S.,” said Gephart.
In recent years the idea of broadening assignments has become more prevalent in the Army. Broadening assignments offer a method of retaining the best performers and placing them in positions most advantageous to the Army.
Having a diverse career in the Army as an officer is important for longevity and promotion. As an engineering officer Gephart understands this and he appreciates the exposure this internship provides him.
“This definitely shows one of the routes I can take as an engineering officer,” said Gephart. “It’s a broadening field and there are a lot of directions you can take. “So seeing specifically one of the routes I could eventually work in is a great opportunity.”